Sunday, February 27, 2011


Sticky Fingers

With FIFA due to discuss Indonesia at a meeting next week more allegations out there about sleaze in domestic football with another excellent series of articles in Tempo magazine. Whether or not FIFA will consider any of the damning evidence of the last few weeks is a moot point. Their interests and football's interests don't alway coincide.

The former manager of Persisam was recently jailed for diverting local government funds meant to subsidise the club. During the court case it was revealed he gave over 200 million rupiah (about 22,000 USD) to leading Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) officials. The PSSI deny it of course saying the money was a 'donation' to the national team.

Which is interesting. Normally FAs disburse money to clubs. Is it normal for it to happen the other way round? Do Chelsea or Tampines Rovers slip their FA a few bob to help them out?

The PSSI should be ok though. If the money was channeled to the national team then there would be a paper trail to that effect and they would be easily able to prove the allegations false.

Or would they? When an auditor went through the books of Indonesian football clubs they were lucky if they found a few numbers on a spreadsheet! Oh, and don't mention tax!

Back at Persisam, it was also revealed that contracts were marked up. One player, Victor Simon, signed a contract for 275 million rupiah. He received 175 million. I understand that is one case gathering dust at FIFA.

Persma Manado have all but slipped off the football map but the courts are making sure they stay in the news with the former chairman, who just happened to be mayor as well, being jailed for using club funds. He was also ordered to pay back 64 billion rupiah.

Money slated for PSIS were allegedly siphoned off to be used in an election campaign. The man himself of course denies using public money in this manner but he does admit bribing PSSI officials saying he didn't enjoy it but 'they system demanded it.'

Persibo Bojonegoro, who withdrew from the Indonesia Super League to take part in the Liga Primer Indonesia so they would not be reliant on public funds, have three former officials being investigating for siphoning off up to 40% of a grant.

The government is keen to stop this rampant abuse and intend to fully prohibit the use of local government money by teams. Actually clubs can't use it now but there are more loopholes in the regulations and clubs, often run by politicians, know them inside out. By 2012 clubs should be standing on their own two feet. Or 22 feet.

There is of course no justification for clubs squeezing the taxpayer. PSIS in 2007 received 14 billion rupiah in subsidies while health and education got a tenth of that.

For the time being the body that runs Indonesian football, Liga Indonesia, keeps its head in the sand. The CEO says that any clubs involved in irregularities is 'not our responsibility' and that they aren't in a position to audit clubs themselves. When asked about corruption he said that the LI don't 'want to be over committed. No need for us to lecture them either.'

There's the problem. The people running the game, be it the PSSI or the LI, just don't give a toss. Nor, obviously, do FIFA. Apathy + Corruption + Incompetence = A Need For Change.

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