Monday, June 04, 2007


An absence of ideas

After two poorly promoted and two poorly attended friendlies against meager opposition I guess it is no real surprise the game with Uzbekistan was cancelled. Mention this Central Asian country to many Indonesians and they greet you with a blank look. One or two respond with a knowing smile and make reference to the presence of high class prostitutes in Kota but that is not for this blog! No one refers to their ability on the football pitch and no one knows any of their star players!

This is though the best the Indonesian FA have been able to entice to these shores. No attempt was made to bring the Netherlands or Argentina, two big names currently touring the region. Of course people might bemoan the lack of money there is circulating in the game here and for sure money is the biggest obstacle. All the more reason for professional administrators but again I digress.

Indonesia has a population of over 200 million. A lot of private money in Singapore comes from here, honestly or ill gotten. There is a booming middle class with money in their pockets and cars galore clogging the streets and these people have money to burn. Hell, have you seen the queues at the newly opened Burger King? The crowds when the UEFA Champions League passed through? There is a large, untapped, enthusiastic, football following here that for various reasons is being ignored; all it takes is some brave man to take a punt.

At the moment, nothing happens here sports wise unless a company with deep pockets fronts the cash and the deepest pockets belong to the tobacco companies. They sponsor both the Liga Indonesia and the Copa Indonesia and if they could would probably sponsor the World Cup. They are however prohibited from sponsoring international fixtures and this is the brick wall Indonesian football hits every time an idea looks like taking off.

I don’t doubt Manchester United and their associated products ranging from sports goods manufacturers and insurance companies would bend over backwards at the opportunity of running round Bung Karno in front of rabid Indonesian supporters who would doubtless fill the arena. The fact is though; there is no one beyond the tobacco companies with the financial wherewithal to bring them here. Instead they regularly visit Malaysia which boasts a population nearly one tenth the size.

No one but the tobacco companies could have paid for the Netherlands or Argentina to come here. Instead, what we have is Hong Kong and the Singapore Under 23’s playing in front of attendances that wouldn’t have filled Lebuk Bulus Stadium.

It is surely down to the Indonesian FA to get out there and find the people who would be willing to help bring the bigger names into the country. They need to show the kind of initiative we normally associate with Singapore to big up their country not just in the eyes of corporate Indonesia but the world. They can start on a local level because when the law passes preventing tobacco companies from sponsoring sports football here will be like a fish up a tree with Persija Jakarta playing Persita Tangerang ad infinitum because there is no money to travel. Perhaps they could ask the Uzbek hookers to help?

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