FIFA has stripped Indonesia of the right to host the Under-20 World Cup tournament due to Jakarta’s refusal to host the Israel national team. Football’s world governing body announced its decision following a meeting between the chair of the Indonesian Football Federation (PSSI), Erick Thohir, and FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
The 24-team tournament was scheduled to be held across six Indonesian cities between 20 May and 11 June. Israel was set to make its debut in the competition.
“FIFA has decided, due to the current circumstances, to remove Indonesia as the host of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023,” said the international body. “A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged. Potential sanctions against the PSSI may also be decided at a later stage.”
Argentina and Qatar had offered to host the tournament and take Indonesia’s place in the line-up of teams if an agreement between FIFA and the PSSI was not reached. Host countries don’t have to qualify to play in FIFA World Cup tournaments.
Losing hosting rights will probably damage Indonesian football teams’ chances of taking part in other FIFA tournaments. International suspension, for example, could see Indonesia banned from playing Asian qualifying matches for the 2026 World Cup. The qualifying stage starts in October.
“Indonesia is a FIFA member, so for any international football matters, we have to abide by the rules,” said Thohir on the PSSI website. “I ask all football lovers to keep their heads held high over this tough decision by FIFA. It’s time we proved to FIFA to work harder to transform football, towards clean and high-achieving football.”
Indonesia does not have any formal diplomatic ties with Israel. Protesters in solidarity with the people of Israeli-occupied Palestine have recently demanded that the Israel team should be stopped from competing in the FIFA tournament.