30 Maret 2010

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SOS (Save Our Soccer)

Despite our huge population and the popularity of soccer in this country, Indonesian soccer teams have not been able to achieve any significant progress at an international level for several decades.
One of the main reasons is the incompetence and corrupt attitude of those entrusted to lead the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI). Against this backdrop, the two-day National Soccer Congress is scheduled to kick off Tuesday in Malang, East Java.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is slated to open the  congress, which is hoped to issue recommendations to save Indonesian soccer. His attendance can be seen as a reflection of his concern for our soccer team’s declining achievements, or an attempt to intervene in PSSI’s internal affairs. The PSSI has come under the spotlight lately, especially since the national team’s humiliating defeat to Laos at the 2009 Southeast Asian Games. Its officials have been blamed for our apparent inability to develop the most popular sport in the country and the world — as well as the association’s ignorance of accusations including corruption, violent brawls among fans, and poor-quality competitions.

It is sad to see the state of the PSSI today. When Soeratin Sosrosoegondo established the PSSI in Yogyakarta on April 19, 1930, his aim was to boost unity among young people across the archipelago.
Nearly 80 years later, the PSSI has yet to move forward to bring Indonesia to the international stage.
Today, our soccer team is ranked 136th by the world soccer governing body, FIFA. This is far worse than our highest achievement in 1976 when we were ranked 98th.
Without world-class achievements, instead the PSSI voiced a bid to host the 2022 World Cup. The plan not only made the PSSI into the laughing stock of the world soccer community. And the PSSI not only lost its right to bid, but FIFA decided to drop Indonesia from the bidding after the PSSI failed to submit governmental guarantees — but it also faces a possible lawsuit at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, lodged by bidding consultant Michel Bacchini for his unpaid fee of US$258,000. The bidding has been seen as a distraction from the chronic existing problems: Youth development, local competition and corruption.
Observers, experts and fans have clamored for a major overhaul of domestic soccer development, including the replacement of PSSI officials. The calls, unfortunately, have apparently fallen on deaf ears, with PSSI officials insisting there is nothing wrong with the organization, the competition or its management.
Moreover, the PSSI blames the government for not supporting soccer development by not providing infrastructure and financial backing.
The congress should not only serve as a means to topple incumbent PSSI chairman Nurdin Halid, but to help reshape the PSSI and see competent, professional and committed persons improve our performance.
While many may fear that government intervention, if any, could risk Indonesia being scrapped (by FIFA) from international competitions, it would be much better for the PSSI to focus first on tackling domestic problems.
The PSSI cannot stand alone. It needs to work together with soccer development stakeholders — the National Sports Council (KONI), the National Education Ministry, the Youth and Sports Ministry and especially the public — to bring soccer back to schools and clubs.
FIFA had a point when it rejected Indonesia from the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore this August: Indonesia had not worked hard enough to develop the sport for youths. We all love soccer. Let’s hope the congress comes up with fresh ideas to improve our game. Otherwise Indonesia could be left on the bench forever and remain a spectator.
Opini the jakarta post 31 maret 2010