Indonesia risking worldwide ban

The Indonesian government insists it will stick by a decision to freeze all activities of the football association despite a threat from FIFA to suspend the country from international competition.

The sports ministry said it was only trying to make improvements and may dispatch a team to lobby FIFA president Sepp Blatter, after the governing body threatened to ban Indonesia unless it revoked its decision.

The FIFA warning was the latest twist in a row that erupted in April when the association, the PSSI, halted the country's top-flight league due to a disagreement with the sports ministry over the participation of two clubs.

The ministry then froze all activities of the PSSI and said it was setting up a transitional body as a step towards replacing the association.

FIFA has backed the PSSI, which insists it remains in charge of football in Indonesia and that the government has no authority on the matter.

It is just the latest crisis to hit Indonesian football, which has for years been beset by infighting and corruption. It was only just recovering from a feud between the PSSI and a breakaway association, which led to the creation of two separate leagues.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has said that Jakarta had to revoke its decision to freeze the activities of the PSSI by 30 May.

Valcke said the government had violated FIFA rules that stipulated that all football associations have to manage their affairs independently, without influence from third parties.

If it refused to do, "we will have no other option but to refer this matter to the appropriate FIFA body for an immediate suspension", said Valcke in a letter, which was widely cited in local media.

Sports ministry spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto told reporters that the government was "very anxious and very serious in overcoming this problem" and conceded a ban would mean Indonesia missing out on playing in competitions such as the Southeast Asian Games and the AFC Asian Cup.

However he added that the effort to oust the PSSI was an attempt to improve the domestic game.

"This is part of making improvements. Just because the government has been threatened by FIFA, it does not want improvements which have been on the right track to slide backwards," he said.

Source AAP