March 14, 2023
JAKARTA – Despite hosting the FIFA U-20 World Cup, in which an Israeli soccer team was slated to come to and participate in the sporting event, Indonesia would continue supporting the Palestinian cause, a senior official said.
“Indonesia’s position on the issue of Palestine has never changed and remains consistent. Indonesia is one the few countries that is consistent in supporting the cause of the Palestinian people,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah said in a press conference on Friday.
He said Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi had also repeatedly campaigned for the Palestinian cause in multiple multilateral forums, such as at the United Nations Security Council earlier in January this year and at the UN Human Rights Council last month, among others.
Faizasyah said while FIFA had already decided on matters surrounding the participating teams in the U-20 and the rules surrounding the sporting event, it would not affect Indonesia’s stance on Palestine.
“Indonesia hosting the U-20 will not weaken Indonesia’s consistent position on Palestine,” Faizasyah said.
Indonesia will host the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup from May 20 to June 11 this year in six host cities, namely Jakarta; Palembang, South Sumatra; Bandung, West Java; Surakarta, Central Java; Surabaya, East Java; and Gianyar, Bali.
Israel qualified for the 2023 competition after securing a spot in the 2022 U-19 EURO Cup in Slovakia last year.
However, it prompted debates in Indonesia as Muslim groups reacted strongly against Israeli participation in the U-20 World Cup.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD said the government had prepared politically and diplomatically in addition to preparing security for the arrival of the Israeli soccer team that would participate in the U-20.
“We have prepared all the avenues [ahead of U-20], just wait,” Mahfud said in Yogyakarta on Wednesday, state broadcaster RRI reported.
Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) chairman Erick Thohir said Indonesia would guarantee the security of the Israeli soccer team that would participate in Indonesia for the U-20 as it was Indonesia’s responsibility, as host of the event.
“If we can’t guarantee or secure their safety, perhaps Indonesia should not bid to host international events,” Erick said on Thursday, as quoted by Tempo.
He also said the security and safety of participating athletes from abroad in Indonesia must also be ensured in any other competitions, especially if Indonesia still wanted to bid to host the 2036 Olympics or the 2034 FIFA World Cup.