U-20 World Cup cancellation is teaching moment for Indonesia: Bali governor

Bali Governor Wayan Koster also said that the presence of players from Israel could give rise to a security threat.


Bali Governor I Wayan Koster (background, second right) speaks at a press conference on May 6, 2022, announcing the deportation of Russian tourist couple Amdrei Fazleev and Alina Fazleeva (foreground, far left and second left, respectively) for taking nude photos at a Hindu temple compound in Bali. (Bali Provincial Administration /File)

March 31, 2023

JAKARTA – Bali Governor Wayan Koster defended his decision to reject the participation of the Israeli soccer team in the U-20 FIFA World Cup, saying that Indonesia must strive to protect its founding principles even through sports.

In a statement issued on Thursday responding to FIFA’s decision to strip Indonesia of its hosting rights to stage the U-20 tournament, Koster said that Indonesia must work to develop a soccer culture that respects humanity, peace and security.

“FIFA’s decision to remove Indonesia as the host of the U-20 World Cup should be a teaching moment for all of us that Indonesian soccer must be built as part of the nation’s supremacy,” Koster said.

Koster also appreciated the efforts made by the government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in fighting for the right to host the U-20 World Cup in Indonesia.

“I appreciate the hard work to have the U-20 tournament staged here without the participation of the Israeli team,” he said, adding that FIFA should also remove Israel from the list of countries qualifying for the tournament.

FIFA on Wednesday stripped Indonesia of the right to stage this year’s U-20 soccer World Cup, over what an Indonesian official said was a failure to honor its commitments to the tournament.

“FIFA has decided, due to the current circumstances, to remove Indonesia as the host of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023,” a FIFA statement said.

“A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged. Potential sanctions against the PSSI may also be decided at a later stage.”

FIFA first canceled the draw for the tournament scheduled to be held in Bali next week, following a rejection from Koster to host the Israeli team on the tourist island, saying that the presence of players from the Jewish state could give rise to a security threat.

Koster said that Balinese were still traumatized from the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 204, mostly Australian tourists.

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