FIFA bans Indonesia from international play for government meddling

FIFA bans Indonesia from international play because of government meddling

FIFA, which finds itself under heavy scrutiny following the indictment of 14 world soccer officials on charges of taking bribes and other corruption, has paradoxically banned Indonesia from international play for failing to manage its own affairs and allowing third parties, namely its government, to influence its soccer association.

The ban, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, means Indonesia will not be allowed to compete in qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia or the 2019 AFC Asian Cup hosted by the United Arab Emirates. 

"This decision resulted from the effective 'take over' of the activities of [Indonesian Football Assn.] PSSI  by the Indonesian authorities," FIFA said in a statement.

Indonesia has not qualified or participated in the World Cup since 1938, when it played as the Dutch East Indies. 

"It's a sad moment for us in Switzerland. FIFA has confirmed that Indonesia will be sanctioned for an indefinite period," PSSI Deputy Chairman Hinca Pandjaitan told the Jakarta Post.

"Over the next few months there will be major changes to restructure Indonesian football," Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi said.

Indonesia is ranked 155th in the world by FIFA. At its lowest point in 2013, the country was ranked 161st. Its best ranking came in 1998 when it was ranked 87th. 

Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme

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