As FIFA deadline approaches, Indonesia soccer no closer to reconciliation

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Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - As the debate between Indonesia's two national soccer organisations drags on, world soccer ruling body FIFA may issue a punishment to Indonesian soccer - but only after the Indonesian national squad finishes its involvement in the current Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

The eleventh hour draws closer for a joint committee comprising the Indonesian Soccer Association (PSSI) and its rival, the Indonesian Soccer Rescue Committee (KPSI), which was established to settle key issues by December 10 - the deadline set by FIFA.

With less than two weeks remaining, three out of four PSSI representatives have withdrawn from the joint committee, citing frustrations in dealing with KPSI representatives.

"FIFA said that should there be any sanctions, they would be enforced after the AFF Cup because Indonesia would be participating in the tournament," PSSI secretary-general Halim Mahfudz told The Jakarta Post on Thursday from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

"But the schedule of the national congress remains the same. It must be held before December 10," he said, referring to the congress mandated under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that both camps signed in June in Kuala Lumpur as a basis for settling their dispute.

Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng urged the PSSI and the KPSI to immediately resolve their issues "for the unity of the nation's soccer".

FIFA's news centre refused to confirm Mahfudz's statement when contacted by the Post, saying the organisation "will not make any comment prior to the deadline on December 10".

Mahfudz said the PSSI had distributed invitation letters for the congress and had "informed the KPSI side of the agenda of the congress".

He added the PSSI had proposed to the KPSI that the next joint committee meeting be today, with three new PSSI representatives, namely Saud Sirait, Ray Akbar and Umar Husein, replacing prominent lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, Saleh Mukadar and Catur Agus Saptono.

The three PSSI representatives withdrew from their joint committee posts in late October.

In the MoU, the world soccer ruling body FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) only recognise the PSSI as the official Indonesian soccer body, and the International Sports Arbitration Board acknowledges the PSSI's authority and does not allow conduct take forward by the KPSI in the name of "national soccer".

Under the MoU, the joint committee must also evaluate the nation's soccer league, as well as form a sole soccer body, by next month.

KPSI representative Joko Driyono said he could not ensure the commencement of the planned national congress following the withdrawal of three PSSI representatives from the committee.

"Should there be any new replacements of PSSI representatives in the joint committee, they would need time to adjust to the matters they will be dealing with," he told the Post.

"Therefore, it will be impossible to make all preparations for the national congress, let alone fix the key issues to be discussed."

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