MEXICO CITY, May 13, (Agencies): Indonesia’s suspension from international soccer for government interference in the country’s football federation has ended after almost a year, FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced on Friday.
However, the FIFA Congress confirmed the existing suspensions for Kuwait and Benin over government interference in their football associations.
Infantino told delegates the decision on Indonesia, one of Asia’s biggest soccer markets, was taken by the FIFA Council after the government agreed to lift a decree considered to constitute unacceptable interference in the football federation.
“The government of Indonesia has advised us that the decree that was causing the suspension had been lifted,” said Infantino.
FIFA stepped in to ban the country in June after a long-running row between the government and the local football association (PSSI) over which teams should be entered into the top flight domestic league.
The government suspended the PSSI after they ignored requests to ban two teams whose owners failed to meet their new governance regulations.
FIFA, after repeated warnings to resolve the row, then banned the country, ruling them out of the joint 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifying campaign
Infantino added that the cases involving Kuwait and Benin would be resolved swiftly.
“I’m very sad to be here and have to propose to you that we suspend two associations,” said Infantino. “On the other hand, we need to protect our associations from government interference, it is one of our major tasks.”
Earlier, a delegation from Kuwaiti clubs lobbying for the FIFA Congress to lift a suspension of the nation’s football association is confident of victory ahead of Friday’s vote in Mexico City.
“So far, we have received a lot of support from the FIFA family and we are very optimistic,” said Saad Al-Hootie, captain of the Kuwait team that reached the 1982 World Cup in Spain. “It’s time to let our players play.”
FIFA suspended the Kuwait Football Association (KFA) last October after finding the government had interfered in the group’s affairs, leading to three World Cup qualifying match forfeits.
“Kuwait football is suffering,” Al-Hootie said. “Clubs from all leagues, players from all levels and the development system have been completely blocked from any activity for more than half a year now. The most frustrating part in all of this is that our FA is not doing anything to have the suspension lifted. This is why we are in Mexico City this week, to defend the future of football in our country.”
Abdullah Al-Maayouf, a Kuwait National Assembly member who was also on the World Cup side from 34 years ago, said personal agendas and politics played a role in the ban.
“The process that led to our suspension was unclear, unfair and not worthy of the new FIFA administration,” Al-Maayouf said. “No proper legal investigation was made by FIFA before the suspension was imposed.”
He cited no suspensions for Kuwait’s cycling, athletics or badminton governing bodies as a sign the ban was wrongly imposed.
“This makes us believe something else is behind our suspension in FIFA because only sports organisations where certain people from Kuwait have a lot of influence, such as FIFA and the IOC, have suspended Kuwait. We believe these international sport leaders from Kuwait pushed for the suspension in order to drive their personal political agendas.”
Hasan Abu Al-Hasan, secretary general of Qadasia sports club, said Al-Maayouf was among those lawmakers whose support for the new laws affecting the KFA prompted the suspension.
“It was not an individual who caused the suspension,” he said. “We hope now the law will be amended in accordance with the FIFA statutes so the KFA can be reinstated.”
A statement from KFA general secretary Saho Al Saho showed how the speaking out by those making the emotional pitch to FIFA members had impacted Kuwait’s top football officials.
“The KFA would like to make it clear that only members of its official delegation … are responsible for speaking on behalf of Kuwait Football Association here at the FIFA Congress in Mexico,” Al Saho said.
“The KFA has noted that some individuals from outside the football family have been speaking and sending phone messages to the media and to FIFA members, claiming to represent Kuwait’s delegation and football family. These individuals do not have the authority to do so and the KFA is not responsible for, and does not support, their behavior or views.”