- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

Indonesia soccer coach Pieter Huistra has called for the government and the national association to start working together to end the international ban imposed by FIFA on Saturday which, unless overturned soon, rules the country out of qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

Soccer’s world governing body on May 30 suspended the Indonesia association, known locally as PSSI, citing government interference in its affairs.

Former Netherlands international Huistra, who arrived in Jakarta in November to become the technical director of the national team, was appointed head coach temporarily to take charge of World Cup qualifiers against Iraq on June 11 and Taiwan five days later, wants soccer to start again before the ban does serious damage.

“We don’t know how long it will last,” Huistra told Associated Press. “In FIFA’s letter, there are a few things required to lift the ban. If these are done, it could end quickly, if not, it could last a long time. It is a big setback for us as things were changing in Indonesia.”

In February, with the Indonesian Super League season just starting, a government body ruled that two clubs were ineligible. PSSI refused to exclude them from the league prompting the government to cease recognizing the association, appointing a transitional committee to run the game and resulting in PSSI’s cancellation of the entire season.

FIFA stepped in to set a May 29 deadline for the issue to be solved.

That didn’t happen and FIFA went through with its threat on Saturday and, in a letter to the PSSI, explained the decision: “The Executive (Committee) decided to suspend the Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) with immediate effect and until the PSSI would be able to comply with its obligations … the FIFA Statutes.”

FIFA stated that all responsibility for national teams and competitions to be returned to a fully independent PSSI before the ban can be lifted.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Sports released a statement on Sunday promising to deal with the situation.

“The government intends to take responsibility for the sanctions and push ahead with reforms in football management that it hopes will allow the country to soon take part in international competitions again. We must respect the FIFA Statutes, but this bitter experience has been a lesson for us all … the government is not ignoring that several strategic steps must be taken as a consequence of the sanctions,” the statement said.

Huistra said FIFA’s decision was not unexpected.

“We always knew that there was a possibility of a suspension and this is one of the first major reasons they asked me in the first place, as they didn’t want a new coach coming in and then having to go away again,” he said.

In the short-term it means that there is no more international soccer for Indonesia and leading Indonesian club Persipura Jayapura will have to withdraw from the regional Asian Football Confederation Cup, although the Under 23 national team has been allowed to complete its fixtures in the South East Asian Games that started Friday in Singapore.

“It’s naturally normal for the players to be affected by the suspension as it affects their livelihood,” Indonesia’s U-23 team manager Gede Widiade said. “As such, the team manager and the coach had honest discussions with the players to ensure they understand this issue fully. This decision is already given and we can only look ahead.

“This tournament (Southeast Asian Games) feels like a final for us,” Widiade added. “Therefore we are looking to perform at the highest level and show to the people of Indonesia of what we are capable of doing.”

There is little time for the senior team to be reinstated into its 2018 World Cup qualification group, but all age levels will be hit by the ban.

“We were supposed to start training camp for the two qualifiers, but we have abandoned that,” Huistra said. “We want to what and see what happens. We have U16 and U19 regional tournaments for the national team that are now not happening.”

For Huistra, the longer the ban goes on, the longer term the negative effects will be.

“The last eight or nine months, the PSSI has shown that it means to do a serious transformation at the fundamental levels of Indonesian football, bringing and other foreign people to build youth development processes and coaching education,” he said. “This year we started 76 coaches on the AFC A, B and C License coaching courses out of nothing as there was a four-year vacuum before all this. This is over now, we can’t organize any more courses and this is a big setback.

“Hopefully we stop fighting and sort things out and the ban won’t last too long. I hope that what comes out of this is that in the end, the PSSI and the government start working together as only if they do then there can be a future. There is a lot to be done.”

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