Friday, July 07, 2017


Indonesia Withdraw AFC Asian Cup Bid

The news Indonesia has withdrawn its bid to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup came as a bit of a surprise. I wasn't aware they had even put in a serious bid for it!

Indonesia of course co hosted the 2007 event (tickets left) with Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam with Bung Karno, Jakabaring and Si Jalak Harapat Stadiums being used. And next year it will host the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang with stadiums in both cities being renovated.

In the last few years there have been a number of new, decent stadiums going up across the country but many of them have flaws that would surely prevent them being used for international events. Many were designed for the National Sports Week (PON) and were built in areas where the price of the land was of greater concern than accessibility for visitors with all that entails in a country where infrastructure has been neglected for so long.

The PSSI of course wanted to bid for the 2022 World Cup, a bid that was not supported by the government and led indirectly to the creation of two leagues for which we are still paying the price. That particular plan required the building of a whole swathe of new stadiums across the country with the PSSI optimistic the fields would suddenly sprout tremendous, gleaming sports arenas that would benefit generations to come.

Today a handful of stadiums have been built in different parts of the country and it could be argued the following would not take too much investment to make them ready for an international event:

88,000 - Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta
38,000 - Bandung Laut Api Stadium, Bandung, West Java
30,000 - Patriot Stadium, Bekasi, West Java
30,000 - Pakansari Stadium, Cibinong, West Java
28,778 - Wibawa Mukti Stadium, Bekasi, West Java

The following venues have the capacity but lack the facilities or access for an international event like the AFC Asian Cup

67,075 - Palaran Stadium, Samarinda, East Kalimantan 
55,000 - Bung Tomo Stadium, Surabaya, East Java
45,000 - Harapan Bangsa, Banda Aceh, Aceh
44,965 - Kanjurhan Stadium, Malang, East Java
35,000 - Gajayana Stadium, Malang
35,000 - Delta Stadium, Sidoarjo, West Java
35,000 - Aji Imbut Stadium, Kutai Kartanegara, East Kalimantan
31,500 - Maguwoharjo Stadium, Sleman, Yogyakarta
27,250 - Jakabaring Stadium, Palembang
27,000 - Si Jalak Harapat Stadium, Soreang, West Java

There are also a number of stadiums in Riau province, a legacy of the recent PON games there but I have no idea what they are like. 

As can be seen from the above the better stadiums tend to be in West Java province. But while the venues in the first list have the benefit of reasonable access, by local standards, and individual seating Si Jalak Harupat is accessible via a couple of country lanes. Hardly the best approach for international or world class players. Likewise Maguwoharjo Stadium would be worthy of consideration but is in the middle of a residential area and access can be an issue if you are not on a motorcycle!

While the stadium situation is a big improvement on what it was even 10 years ago those that we do have do need work on to bring up to international standards and much of that work needs to come from state coffers. Bung Tomo for example (pictured left) is set amid rice fields and a water treatment plant. It stands out like a huge spaceship but for now is only reachable via a couple of narrow lanes although I understand a plan exists to link it to the nearby freeway.

Roads though are problematic from an environmental point of view. What's needed is some kind of public transport, especially trains and hardly any stadium on the two lists is within walking distance of a railway station with the exception of Patriot Stadium in Bekasi. Gajayana Stadium is a doable walk for me but then I'm English and don't mind a walk now and then. And Bung Karno is situated in the middle of Jakarta, close to the busway and Palmerah Railway Station. But that's it.

It would be interesting to know why Indonesia have withdrawn their bid. Thailand are still in contention and they boast Rajamangala, Supachalasai, Thammasat and Buriram United as decent stadiums. That's about it. Still, under a military junta they are more likely to construct stadiums and infrastructure than Indonesian in a short period of time.

Indonesia started the 2017 season with a regulation stipulating the number of players aged 23 or under who must start the game. Then they realized the SEA Game stake place in August which would force teams to be short of key players so they ditched the regulation. Perhaps they should just focus on having a season go to plan before inviting the world to come and visit?

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