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Governing Bodies

Indonesia throws U-20 World Cup into jeopardy, calling for Israel’s exclusion

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A protester shouts slogans as she holds a placard during a rally against Israel in Jakarta, on March 20, 2023. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

FIFA may have to begin to search for another host nation for the FIFA U-20 World Cup as Indonesia has put the tournament in danger.

They were supposed to have hosted the tournament two years ago, but was cancelled owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now another problem has cropped up, this time, self made.  The draw for the tournament which was scheduled to hold this week has now been postponed.

The Indonesian city, Bali that is supposed to host the draw have brought up a political problem.

According to Reuters, this is occasioned by Bali’s governor’s refusal  to host Israel’s team.

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The Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) said the draw that was to be held on Friday had been cancelled. Fifa were still conducting checks on tournament readiness.

The 24-team tournament is scheduled to be held from May 20-June 11 across six cities and Israel were set to make their debut in the competition.

The Jakarta Post reported earlier this month that Bali’s governor Wayan Koster had written to the Ministry of Youth and Sports imploring them to “adopt a policy forbidding the Israeli team from competing in Bali” due to the conflict with Palestine.

The letter was also sent to the PSSI. Reuters could not reach the governor’s office for comment.

“Previously, Bali governor Wayan Koster rejected the presence of the Israeli national team in the Fifa U-20 World Cup event… This can be a reason for Fifa to cancel the U-20 World Cup draw,” the PSSI said in a statement.

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“Because, for Fifa, the governor’s refusal is the same as cancelling the organising guarantee that has been issued by the Bali provincial government.”

Earlier this month, protesters marched in the capital of Jakarta waving Indonesian and Palestinian flags while demanding Israel not be allowed to participate.

Indonesia’s population is predominantly Muslim. Most Indonesian Muslims practice a moderate version of Islam, but recent years have seen a rise in religious conservatism that has crept into politics.

Over the past year, Israeli forces have made thousands of arrests in the West Bank and killed more than 200 Palestinians, including fighters and civilians. Meanwhile, more than 40 Israelis and three Ukrainians have died in Palestinian attacks.

If Indonesia lose hosting rights as a result, PSSI Executive Committee member Arya Sinulingga said he was worried about how Fifa sanctions could “isolate Indonesian football from the world”.

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Sinulingga said the PSSI hoped for a solution where politics could be separated from sport, with its chairman Erick Thohir set to coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

“The chairman will also report to Mr President at the first opportunity to find a solution to all this, both diplomacy and foreign policy… to save Indonesian football that we love,” Sinulingga added.

The PSSI said losing hosting rights would harm Indonesian football teams’ chances of taking part in other Fifa tournaments in the future while the economic losses would amount to “trillions of rupiah”.

Indonesia is also trying to rebuild its reputation after a deadly stampede last year led to the deaths of 135 spectators at a stadium in East Java in October. Many were crushed as they fled for exits after police fired tear gas into the crowd.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Governing Bodies

Samuel Eto’o apologises and reinstates Cameroon coach Brys

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Former Cameroonian star forward and now football federation president Samuel Eto’o apologised Thursday to national team coach Marc Brys, with whom he had been involved in a heated exchange this week.

The ex-Barcelona striker also confirmed Brys would remain in his position after it was announced the Belgian was to be replaced as head coach of Cameroon on Wednesday.

“I apologise because during our first unfortunate meeting, there was a lot of emotion… but the Cameroonian people are more important than us, and it is for them that we must work,” said Eto’o at a press conference.

Eto’o was referring to an incident captured on video during his first meeting with Brys, which was widely shared on social media Tuesday.

The pair were seen to engage in a heated argument, before Brys left abruptly.

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“Your mission is not an easy one, despite your qualities and experience, but you should know that you will have our support,” added the two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner.

Brys was appointed to the role in April by Cameroon’s sport ministry, much to the astonishment of the country’s football federation (Fecafoot) and its president Eto’o wrote to the ministry to denounce its “illegal” appointment of the 62-year-old.

Fecafoot said it regretted not being involved “closely, nor remotely” in the selection process for the new coach and his staff.

Belgian Brys will now oversee Cameroon’s next two crucial matches in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, against Cape Verde on June 8 and Angola three days later.

-AFP

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Governing Bodies

Footballers warn FIFA of looming strike

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FIFA Completely Opposed To 'blue Cards' -

Players have warned world soccer’s governing body FIFA that they are ready to go on strike over concerns the playing calendar is overloaded, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said.

Maheta Molango, who has been calling for change since February, believes players have reached a breaking point. He says football’s packed schedule endangers players’ health and diminishes the quality of the sport.

“I can tell you a situation not 10 days ago where I went into a dressing room that was directly affected and said: ‘I’m happy to be here and bark a bit, but ultimately it’s up to you. How far do you want to go?” Molango told the BBC.

“Some of them said: ‘I’m not having it, we might as well go on strike. Some said: ‘What’s the point? Yes, I’m a millionaire, but I don’t even have time to spend the money’.

Demands on players have increased in recent years, as tournaments expanded and new competitions emerged, with players and managers criticising that the calendar demanded too many matches.

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“It was not even the union that said it, it was Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. We have reached a point where we cannot rule out any action,” Molango said.

Global players’ union FIFPRO, along with the PFA and the World Leagues Association (WLA), have threatened to take legal action if FIFA continues in this direction.

In a letter addressed to FIFA President Gianni Infantino and General Secretary Mattias Grafstrom, they expressed their concerns over the expansion of the new 32-team Club World Cup.

In response, FIFA denied their claims it had taken unilateral decisions to favour its competitions in the international calendar and would not consider rescheduling the tournament.

“Some of the changes in England with the domestic calendar have been forced by what FIFA and UEFA have done. What has happened is further confirmation that something needs to be done,” Molango said

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“We will always try to exhaust all diplomatic avenues, we have sent a letter, we have received a reply, but unfortunately time is against us. Sometimes between grown-up people, despite trying very hard to find solutions you need a third party to decide, maybe an arbitrator or a tribunal,” he said.

-Reuters

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Governing Bodies

Blow by blow exchange that thwarted meeting of Eto’o and Marc Brys

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Samuel Eto'o and Marc Brys get into hot exchanges

BY KUNLE SOLAJA. 

Disagreement between the ministry of sports in Cameroon and the leadership of the football federation of Cameroon (FECAFOOT) may have been the cause of the impasse currently going on in that country.

As the clock ticks down to Cameroon’s World Cup qualifying matches with Cape Verde and Angola, the team currently parade two head coaches.

On one hand is Belgium’s Marc Brys who is appointed by the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education. His appointment does not go down well with FECAFOOT led by Samuel Eto’o Fils.

On the other hand is Martin Ndtoungou who on Tuesday was named the new coach by Eto’o. In a press statement, FECAFOOT  chronicled what were seen as infractions on the part of Brys.

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First was his refusal to attend an earlier meeting slated for 10 May and initiated by the Secretary General of FECAFOOT.

Another offence was the Belgian release of players’ list for upcoming matches and holding a press conference in violation of FECAFOOT procedures. He was also accused of not communicating training schedules and taking isolated work initiatives as well as disclosing information of players to third parties and media without FECAFOOT’s approval.

Eto’o also accused the Belgian of not communicating the final list of players within the allocated time.

Press statement issue by FECAFOOT

Those appear the remote causes of the crisis which peaked following a botched meeting of the Belgian and the FECAFOOT officials on Tuesday.

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A technical adviser to the Cameroon Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, Cyrille Tollo who demanded for the agenda of the meeting was fired out on the orders of Eto’o.

He was suspected to be carrying out instructions from the sports minister.  When Tollo was asked to leave the meeting, the Belgian coach opted to also leave.

There and then the hot exchanges ensued.

Samuel Eto’o: “Please stay so we can work. If you leave, you won’t come back.”

Marc Brys: “Why are you talking like that!?”

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Samuel Eto’o: “I am president here.”

Marc Brys: “I’m a coach here.”

Samuel Eto’o: “You are a coach because I appointed you. I ask you to stay in this meeting. Because if you do not stay, I am obliged to question my Executive Committee.”

Marc Brys: “It’s me who decides.”

Samuel Eto’o: “You don’t decide. What you do, I take responsibility. In your country, you can’t do that. And you don’t talk to me like that. As a footballer, you can’t never talk to me. Stay, we’re working. Which country do you think I can do this in?

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Marc Brys: “No!”

Samuel Eto’o: “How can you do that in Cameroon? I was a coach.”

Marc Brys: “For 3 weeks.”

Samuel Eto’o: “I was a very great player.”

Marc Brys: “I’m leaving.”

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Samuel Eto’o: “If you leave, don’t come back.”

A source in Cameroon informed Sports Village Square that Eto’o may have shut himself in the hips as he is seen to be heading into confrontation with the government.

  It is gathered that that the minister in charge of internal affairs has instructed council heads not to permit any meeting of FECAFOOT.

  It is further gathered that the government was in the process of auditing the FECAFOOT accounts owing to fund disbursed but not accounted for.

  It is gathered that prior to Qatar 2022 World Cup, FECAFOOT collected 2.5 billion cfa which is about $4,142,675. The money which was to be refunded at the end of December 2022 has not been repaid.

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