Indonesia’s Anger and Sadness After FIFA Hosts Under-20 World Cup

JAKARTA: Indonesian footballers, fans and pundits reacted with anger and sadness after FIFA on Thursday (30 March) canceled the Under-20 World Cup in the host country following protests over Israel’s participation.

The humiliating loss came after two influential governors insisted on banning Israel from the convention.

Indonesia and Israel have no official diplomatic ties, and local opposition to hosting an Israeli team intensifies due to strong support for the Palestinian cause in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

With Indonesia’s automatic qualifier spot canceled following FIFA’s decision to seek a new host, Indonesia’s most popular sport has again plunged into stagnation and faced another round of isolation.

Some of the archipelago nation’s soccer prodigies took to social media for outrage and bitterness after losing their chance to play in what FIFA calls “Tomorrow’s Superstar Tournament.”

19-year-old striker Rabbani Tasnim wrote: “Energy, time, sweat and even blood was poured into it, but failed at one point due to political reasons. Here is our big dream you destroyed.”

A video from the Indonesian FA shows the players bowing their heads and the coach weeping when he heard the news that FIFA was looking for a new host late on Wednesday.

“Not just our players, but all footballers are affected now,” said 18-year-old striker Hokky Caraka.

On Thursday morning, a flower board for players was hung outside the FA headquarters in central Jakarta with a sign reading “Never give up on your dreams.”

Indonesians poured out negative comments on his Instagram page after one of the leading candidates for next year’s presidential election, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowuer, opposed Israel’s participation.

Bali’s governor also joined the anti-Israel choir, and about 100 conservative Muslim protesters held an anti-Israel rally in Jakarta this month.

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