The Under-20 World Cup (20 May – 11 June) will not take place in Indonesia. FIFA has withdrawn the organization of this competition to this Asian country, because of a political imbroglio that prevented the holding of the draw.
"A new host country will be designated as soon as possible, the dates of the competition remaining unchanged for the moment," said the world football body in a statement, referring to possible "sanctions" against the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI).
Fifa does not offer a more precise explanation than "the current context", but the cancellation of the draw of the tournament scheduled last Friday in Bali had justified an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon between the president of PSSI Erick Thohir and that of Fifa, Gianni Infantino.
Israel at the heart of the controversy
An Indonesian football official linked the decision to comments by the governor of Bali opposing Israel's presence at the competition – the two countries have no diplomatic relations and Jakarta is a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause.
The Under-20 World Cup, which brings together 24 teams, was to be the most important tournament ever organized by the archipelago, hosted by several cities from May 20 to June 11. Israel qualified for the first time.
FIFA removes Indonesia as host of FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023
— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) March 29, 2023
To avoid unrest, organizers planned to have Israel's team play in Bali, an island with a majority Hindu population, while Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. But the opposition of the regional governor has questioned this project.
"I did my best. After handing over a letter from President Jokowi and having a lengthy discussion with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, we must accept FIFA's decision to cancel the event that we were both looking forward to," Thohir said after the talks, according to a statement from the Indonesian FA.
"FIFA considers that the current situation cannot continue, we must submit," he added.
Indonesia also remains bruised by one of the worst disasters in the history of this sport. Last October, 135 fans lost their lives during a giant stampede at a stadium on the island of Java.
"While potential sanctions against the PSSI could be taken in due course, FIFA would like to make it clear that this decision does not in any way call into question" its support for the PSSI to "help Indonesian football overcome the tragedy of last October," said the Zurich body.
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