(Reuters) - Indonesia’s newly appointed sports minister has threatened to disband the country’s two rival football factions unless a solution is found to end the rumbling row before FIFA’s latest deadline.
Football in the southeast Asian country has been long plagued by infighting between the Indonesian Soccer Association (PSSI) and the breakaway Indonesian Soccer Rescue Committee (KPSI), with FIFA threatening to suspend them if the dispute was not resolved by December 10.
But Indonesia somehow dodged a ban and were given a three month extension to resolve the fight for power after emergency talks involving soccer’s world governing body and the Asian Football Confederation.
Roy Suriyo, who was appointed as the country’s new youth and sports minister on Tuesday, was confident of solving the bitter feud before the FIFA deadline, the Jakarta Globe said in a report.
“FIFA has given us a deadline of March 16. So, we have to solve the problems by then,” Suriyo told the newspaper.
“I have neither interests nor attachment to the ... PSSI and KPSI. So, God willing, I will solve it.”
Any government interference, however, is likely to lead to an automatic ban from FIFA, with the world governing body suspending other nations for similar acts in the past.
Football fans in Indonesia have become used to the struggles with one crisis routinely following another, their record 10-0 humiliation by Bahrain in a World Cup qualifier in February triggering a FIFA investigation.
At one point, Indonesia had two national teams and still has two domestic leagues with players blocked from competing in the other.
The team disappointingly exited at the group stage of the Southeast Asian championships in December and a ban would jeopardise their participation in the qualifying tournament for the 2015 Asian Cup which begins in February.
More than half of the 52 players short listed for the Asian Cup qualifiers were yet to report to a training camp in North Sumatra as the KPSI-affiliated clubs have refused to release them, the Jakarta Post reported.
National team coach Nil Maizar said he would wait for the players to turn up and was yet to set a deadline with their opening qualifier against Iraq scheduled for February 6.
“We haven’t set a deadline so far. We will talk about it within the week,” Maizar told the newspaper after a training session at the University of North Sumatra’s ground on Monday.
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Patrick Johnston