Monday, January 26, 2015


Finding A Neutral Venue In Indonesia

England is easy. Play at Wembley. It may be in north west London but most people accept it is a neutral venue, an image supported by decades of history.

Go to war and the chances are the opposing sides will be called to Switzerland for some alpenhorn, chocolate and peace talks. It has nice mountains, lakes and expensive hotels where diplomats can be wined and dined at someone else's expense until they decide to declare peace.

In Singapore the whole place is neutral given the absolute lack of passion or rivalry in the game there.

Indonesia? Neutrality is fraught with difficulties. The Inter Island Cup Final held over from 2014 is a case in point.

The final was to be played between Arema and Persib but the two sets of supporters aren't the best of friends. Neither club it seems is keen on playing home and away. Jakarta, the country's capital city, is a no no given the rivalry that exists between the fans of Persib and those of Persija.

Likewise Surabaya is a non starter. Their supporters are none too keen on Arema, a couple of hours south of Indonesia's second largest city, and while they are boycotting their own team these days they would not take too kindly too thousands of their rivals running round their city taking liberties.

It looked like a compromise had been reached when the powers that be decreed the final would be held in Bantul, a suburb of Yogyakarta approximately midway between the two cities.

The ease of access of course would have meant the potential for thousands of Arema and Persib fans descending on the city popular with foreign tourists and I can't help think there were some sighs of relief when Arema reached the final of the SMC Cup, against Sriwijaya to be played in Palembang.

To cut down on unnecessary travel the IIC Final was also moved to the South Sumatra city so Arema get to rest their legs for a few days before battling for this trophy from last season, it is Persib who are forced to take to the road, or the sky. Mind you, they did win the league there last season.

A win win perhaps for everyone. Except the dedicated fan who will be put off from travelling by the costs involved.

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