Fury, Sadness in Indonesia after FIFA Pulls Under-20 World Cup

Indonesian football players, fans and pundits reacted with anger and sadness after FIFA pulled the Under-20 World Cup from the host nation. BAY ISMOYO / AFP
Indonesian football players, fans and pundits reacted with anger and sadness after FIFA pulled the Under-20 World Cup from the host nation. BAY ISMOYO / AFP
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Fury, Sadness in Indonesia after FIFA Pulls Under-20 World Cup

Indonesian football players, fans and pundits reacted with anger and sadness after FIFA pulled the Under-20 World Cup from the host nation. BAY ISMOYO / AFP
Indonesian football players, fans and pundits reacted with anger and sadness after FIFA pulled the Under-20 World Cup from the host nation. BAY ISMOYO / AFP

Indonesian football players, fans and pundits reacted with anger and sadness Thursday after FIFA pulled the Under-20 World Cup from the host nation weeks before it was due to kick off, following protests against Israel's participation.

The humiliating loss came after two influential governors advocated banning Israel from the competition, AFP said.

Indonesia and Israel do not have formal diplomatic relations, and support for the Palestinian cause in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation runs high, fueling local opposition to hosting the Israeli team.

FIFA's decision to find a new host -- thereby nixing Indonesia's automatic qualifying spot -- puts the country's most popular sport back in the doldrums and facing another bout of isolation.

Some of the archipelago nation's football prodigies took to social media with fury and heartbreak after losing the chance to play at what FIFA bills as the "tournament of tomorrow's superstars".

An Indonesian FA video showed players with heads bowed and their coach in tears after receiving the news late Wednesday that FIFA would seek a new host.

"We, the players, are now affected, not just us but all footballers," said 18-year-old striker Hokky Caraka.

On Thursday morning, flower boards for the players popped up outside the FA headquarters in central Jakarta, including one that read "do not give up on your dream".

Indonesians inundated the Instagram page of Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo -- one of the leading candidates in next year's presidential election -- with negative comments after he opposed Israel's participation.

Bali's governor had also joined the anti-Israel chorus and around a hundred conservative Muslim protesters held an anti-Israel rally in Jakarta this month.

'Very painful'
But there was popular support for the tournament the country was handed in 2019, with many viewing it as a source of national pride.

Jakarta pledged to guarantee Israel's participation despite its pro-Palestinian stance, yet opposing voices became too loud for FIFA.

"This is truly a very painful incident for the Indonesian people. Those who made the noise and made us fail... must be held accountable," said Akmal Marhali, expert at football watchdog Save Our Soccer.

Indonesian officials said losing the tournament could cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars.

FIFA threatened further sanctions and could exclude Indonesia from 2026 World Cup qualifiers that begin in October. It was banned for a year in 2015 over government interference.

But for Indonesia's fervent fans, it was the loss of their first ever major football tournament that hurt the most.

"I am very disappointed because it has been my dream to watch Indonesia hosting a global football event," said 40-year-old supporter Jarnawi, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

The game in the country has long been dogged by shaky infrastructure and fan violence, and is still reeling from a deadly stadium stampede last year that killed more than 130 people.

But it was the clash of politics and sport that ultimately cost it the tournament many had long hoped for.

"We are talking about youths who want to play soccer. They do not have any more interests," said pundit Justin Lhaksana.

"Why is this issue blindly mixed with political games?"



Brazil Coach Dorival Junior Aims for Consistency to Achieve Copa America Success 

Brazil's coach Dorival Junior speaks during a press conference ahead of the Conmebol 2024 Copa America tournament group D football match between Brazil and Costa Rica at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on June 23, 2024. (AFP)
Brazil's coach Dorival Junior speaks during a press conference ahead of the Conmebol 2024 Copa America tournament group D football match between Brazil and Costa Rica at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on June 23, 2024. (AFP)
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Brazil Coach Dorival Junior Aims for Consistency to Achieve Copa America Success 

Brazil's coach Dorival Junior speaks during a press conference ahead of the Conmebol 2024 Copa America tournament group D football match between Brazil and Costa Rica at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on June 23, 2024. (AFP)
Brazil's coach Dorival Junior speaks during a press conference ahead of the Conmebol 2024 Copa America tournament group D football match between Brazil and Costa Rica at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on June 23, 2024. (AFP)

Brazil coach Dorival Junior has identified balance and consistency as the keys to success ahead of Monday's Copa America opener against Costa Rica.

Dorival, who took over in January and has only coached four games, admitted that the Brazilian squad still lacked on-field stability, which he said was natural given their short time together.

"I have to find a balance for a team that was put together only three months ago, and after a certain period of 15 or 20 days of work they have to find themselves again," he said at a press conference on Sunday.

"In football you don't skip preparation phases in training, but that's why we try to accelerate each one of them to have a consistent and confident squad that can then use the individuality of its players to create opportunities."

The coach announced a starting line-up that included two new faces, Real Madrid center back Eder Militao and Atletico Mineiro full back Guilherme Arana.

"The starting line-up will have Militao and Arana. In every game, if necessary, there will be one or two changes. All the players are ready. None of them are below our expectations. We are prepared for any situation," the coach added.

New Real Madrid signing Endrick will not start against Costa Rica and is expected to come on in the second half, as Dorival called for "a bit of patience" with the 17-year-old striker.

"It's something that will happen naturally. It might not take long because he is extremely skillful. I'm in a hurry to get him on the pitch, but you have to have a certain balance. He has excellent skills and is one of the most promising players."

Brazil will also face Colombia and Paraguay in Group D.