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‘I battled in hopeless situation to uphold Indonesia hosting rights’, laments FA boss, Thohir



Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) Erick Thohir

According to reports in Antara, one of the newspapers in Indonesia, the chairperson of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) Erick Thohir said on Wednesday that he worked very hard to retain Indonesia’s U-20 World Cup hosting rights during his meeting with FIFA president Gianni Infantino in Doha, Qatar.

Speaking further, he lamented that “Indonesia is a FIFA member so it has to abide by the rules.

“I have worked really hard. After delivering a letter from President Joko Widodo and having long talks with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, we must accept FIFA’s decision to cancel the event that we have been looking forward to,” he said in a statement posted on PSSI’s website.

“We must be strong. I ask all football lovers to keep their heads held high over this tough decision. It’s time we prove to FIFA to work harder to transform football toward clean and high-achieving football,” he added.

The decision to remove Indonesia as the host was taken after PSSI said on March 26, 2023, that it had cancelled the drawing event that was scheduled to take place in Bali on March 31 because of the Bali Governor’s refusal to welcome Israel’s national team.

“FIFA has decided, due to the current circumstances, to remove Indonesia as the host of the FIFA U-20 World Cup2023,” FIFA said in a statement.


“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,” it added.

FIFA did not provide further details regarding the reasons for stripping Indonesia of the hosting rights. However, the pushback against the Israeli team’s participation in the tournament is believed to have played a part in FIFA’s decision.

However, FIFA said it is committed to assisting the PSSI in the transformation of Indonesian football following the deadly stampede last year that claimed 135 lives.

“Members of the FIFA team will continue to be present in Indonesia in the coming months and will provide the required assistance to the PSSI, under the leadership of President Thohir,” FIFA said in the statement.

“A new meeting between the FIFA president and the PSSI president for further discussions will be scheduled shortly,” it added.


Indonesia was named as the host of the U-20 World Cup in 2019 by FIFA after beating out two rivals: Brazil and Peru.

Indonesia had prepared six stadiums for the U-20 World Cup: Gelora Bung Karno (Jakarta), Gelora Bung Tomo (Surabaya), Si Jalak Harupat (Bandung), Manahan Stadium (Solo), I Wayan Dipta (Bali), and Gelora Sriwijaya Jakabaring (Palembang).

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.

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