Indonesia stripped of the Under 20s World Cup after Bali’s governor called for Israel to be banned from the tournament amid political turmoil

Indonesia has been stripped of hosting the men’s Under-20 World Cup amid political turmoil regarding Israel’s participation.


FIFA said Indonesia was not ready to stage the 24-team tournament scheduled to start on May 20.


The decision came after a meeting in Doha between FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Indonesian soccer federation president Erick Thohir.


Israel qualified for its first Under-20 World Cup in June. The country’s participation in Friday’s scheduled draw in Bali provoked political opposition this month.


Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.


Indonesia’s hosting was cast into doubt on Sunday when FIFA postponed the draw.


It is unclear who could now host the tournament, which was scheduled to be played in six stadiums in Indonesia.


Indonesian outlet The Jakarta Post reported earlier in March that the governor of Bali Wayan Koster wrote to the Ministry of Youth and Sports urging them to ‘adopt a policy forbidding the Israeli team from competing in Bali’, due to the ongoing conflict with Palestine.


This letter was also addressed to the Indonesian FA who said in a statement: ‘Previously, Bali governor Wayan Koster rejected the presence of the Israeli national team in the FIFA U-20 World Cup event… This can be a reason for FIFA to cancel the U-20 World Cup draw.


‘Because, for FIFA, the governor’s refusal is the same as cancelling the organising guarantee that has been issued by the Bali provincial government.’


Earlier this month, a significant protest took place in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, where protesters marched and waved Indonesian and Palestinian flags and demanded Israel shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the tournament.


Indonesian FA Executive Committee member Arya Sinulingga insisted he was worried if they lost hosting rights it could ‘isolate Indonesian football from the world’.


Sinulingga also explained he hoped a solution could be found to keep politics and sport separate and the Indonesian FA is planning to coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Youth and Sports to find a solution.


He added: ‘The chairman (Erick Thohir) will also report to Mr President at the first opportunity to find a solution to all this, both diplomacy and foreign policy… to save Indonesian football that we love.’


The governing body also argued that losing the rights would impact their ability to compete in other FIFA tournaments and explained how the economic losses could reach ‘trillions of rupiah’. 

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