Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Demos Across The Country

The election is only two weeks away and subject to appeal there are just two candidates to lead the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI). The incumbent, Nurdin Halid, is seeking a third term in office while running against him is Nirwan Bakrie, a powerfully connected businessman who has long been involved at the PSSI and owns Pelita Jaya.

You can't help but be reminded of that old joke about elections. No matter who you vote for, the same people get re-elected!

The PSSI has long been under the control of Golkar, the political party that was once headed by dictator Suharto. Nirwan's brother is the current leader of the party and Nurdin has represented them in the past. General Secretary Nugraha Besoes has also been involved in Golkar in the past.

May be not on the scale of Egypt or Tunisia but demos across the country yesterday called for Nurdin, who has spent time behind bars in contravention of FIFA statutes (like they care) calling on Nurdin to step down.

The breakaway league, Liga Primer Indonesia, is gaining in popularity, partly inspired by teen idol Irfan Bachdim, partly because it ain't PSSI and totally because it's seen as cleaner.

Protests were recorded yesterday in Banda Aceh, Palembang (potentially embarrassing with an Olympic Qualifier there tonight against Turkmenistan), Jakarta, Semarang, Jepara, Solo, Pontianak, Surabaya, Malang and Makassar with protests on going as I write in Jakarta at the PSSI offices.

The government has threatened to get involved if the PSSI does get its house in order and that seems unlikely for now.

Indonesian football needs change. The fans deserve it. If Nurdin does the honourable thing and step down or withdraw then who would takeover? And would they do a better job of things?

Football mirrors society. The entrenched leviathans resist change and resist transparency. They're not used it and they shun it as much as possible. Cutting the head off won't change that. The struggle for a new football in Indonesia is a continuation of the struggle for reformasi that began in the late 90s when Suharto was toppled.

It's Indonesia's fight and so far, through social networking and word of mouth, they are giving it their best shot.

But will it be enough?

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