Monday, October 25, 2010
No Easy Fix For Indonesian Woes
In many ways football mirrors the society that hosts it. If the society is slick, efficient and run on time then the chances are high its football will be too. Likewise if the society is broken then you are unlikely to witness a highly professional league with some of the best players in the world on mega bucks.
Indonesia isn’t broke. Far from it. But with a nascent democracy coming off the back of a 30 odd year dictatorship there are bound to be teething problems melding together a nation of 17,000 islands and hundreds of different ethnic groups and languages.
The nation faces many challenges as it seeks to impose itself on the world stage in the way that nations like Brazil and India have done so over the last decade or so; challenges faced by many other nations at a similar stage of development.
Corruption is considered to be rife. It is alleged business deals are fixed in advance, there is a problem of human resources and of course a creaking infrastructure is crying out for heavy investment. For any government they are four daunting challenges that need addressing.
Indonesian football is not without problems of its own. Ones that affect most people and grab the headlines are late payment of players’ salaries and dodgy refereeing decisions. Oh and of course a succession of high profile failures at international level, poor pitches, interference from the top and backward coaching methods.
The Liga Primer Indonesia is being set up to address at least some of those issues. Not least of course money. For now most football clubs in the Indonesia Super League and the second tier have to make do with funding, in the form of subsidies, from local government but that will soon have to end. And most clubs are ill equipped to make up the shortfall.
The LPI proposes that all sponsorship monies will go into a central fund and clubs will be able to prepare a budget and then draw on that fund. Original proposals suggest that there maybe as much as 20 or 30 billion rupiah available per club. Almost double that clubs have been receiving via local subsidies. And of course it is this larger pot of money that is attracting the interest of clubs and players, everyone down the food chain expecting their own slice to grow.
There is no guarantee that will happen of course. Managing money is an art. Just because there is more of it around doesn’t mean all problems will magically disappear overnight. Players will ask for higher salaries, agents will take bigger cuts and all the other shady characters who operate in the shadows will also expect their bellies to be filled from the same, larger, trough.
Another proposal from the new Liga is for foreign referees. The thinking is that they would be less susceptible to any alleged interference that may or may not happen at some teams. Nice idea. Another idea would be to encourage match officials to report attempts at intimidation or to use video evidence to investigate any apparent dodgy decisions. Support the match officials and get serious with the perpetrators.
Back to foreign refs. Are they really a panacea to the problems of strange penalties awarded or offsides overlooked? It is being reported today that new national team coach is having his performance ‘evaluated’, the local version of the dreaded vote of confidence, after just two friendlies. Apparently the head of the FA has not seen any improvement in the players’ technique.
Cynics might suggest this ‘evaluation’ is less to do with performance and more to do with a high profile falling out with the head of the Indonesia Super League. Comments were made to the media by said gentleman along the lines of the coach needs to understand the ways things are done in Indonesia. What’s to say the same thing won’t happen when certain clubs don’t get those 50/50s they have grown used to receiving? What’s to say they won’t appeal to the LPI’s sense of nationalism and say these foreign officials are all fine and hunky dory but they don’t understand the Indonesian way? Would the Liga be strong enough to say may way or highway, pal?
Like many fans of Indonesian football I can see the game is crying out for a serious overhaul. Unfortunately I am yet to be convinced that the LPI is that overhaul. It goes neither deep enough nor tackles the serious problems. And it gives all the advantages to the FA, the very body that everyone is so keen to see replaced. FIFA maybe no angels themselves but at the moment they are the world’s governing body in all footballing matters. They only recognize one national Football Association in each member country and only that association can organize football competitions.
If the LPI goes ahead without the approval of the Indonesian FA then the FA would be, as I understand it, perfectly entitled to impose sanctions on competing clubs and players. Sanctions that could include worldwide suspension from the game. Are there any young footballers brave enough to make that leap?
There are still a great many unanswered questions about the LPI that will probably be answered in the usual drip-drip style that is the norm here. As of yesterday it would kick off on 8 January with Persis Solo playing Arema at the Manahan Stadium. The following day Arema are scheduled to play Persija in Jakarta. Will Arema have two separate squads? One for each league? Are there that many players with enough quality to go around?
Indeed the presence of Arema in the LPI is another talking point. The guy who heads the ISL champions also heads the ISL!
There is never a dull moment in Indonesian football! Most people agree it needs a rethink. The next few months will tell us whether the LPI has the legs to make it happen.
and one question in my mind, why Indonesian league don't livescore.com index ???hehehee