Wednesday, eight weeks prior to the commencement of the men’s Under-20 World Cup, Indonesia was stripped of hosting duties due to political uncertainty surrounding Israel’s participation.
FIFA stated that Indonesia was excluded from hosting the 24-team event slated to begin on May 20 “due to current circumstances” but did not elaborate.
The decision was made after FIFA president Gianni Infantino met with Indonesian football federation head Erick Thohir in Doha.
Israel qualified for their first Under-20 World Cup last June. This month, though, the country’s participation in Friday’s scheduled draw in Bali sparked political criticism.
Indonesia has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel, but actively supports the Palestinian cause. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority country in the world.
Sunday, FIFA postponed the draw, casting doubt on Indonesia’s ability to host the World Cup.
It is unknown who could now host the competition, which was originally slated to take place in six Indonesian venues. According to reports, Argentina, who did not qualify for the event, is interested in hosting.
FIFA stated, “A new host will be announced as soon as practicable, with the tournament dates remaining unchanged.”
FIFA could subject the Indonesian football federation to further sanctions. A suspension may eliminate Indonesia from Asian World Cup qualifying for 2026, which begins in October.
FIFA appeared to absolve Thohir, the former president of Italian club Inter Milan – the team Infantino loves — and former co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, of any culpability on Wednesday.
In the next months, FIFA employees will continue to work in Indonesia “under the direction of President Thohir,” according to the organization’s governing body.
Before being selected to host the 2021 edition of the Under-20 World Cup, soccer and public officials in Indonesia agreed to FIFA’s hosting requirements in 2019. The coronavirus pandemic necessitated a two-year postponement of the tournament.
President Joko Widodo of Indonesia stated on Tuesday evening that his administration objects to Israel’s participation. He informed the public that the country agreed to host the tournament before knowing Israel would qualify.
By reaching the semifinals of the Under-19 European Championship, Israel qualified. The team ultimately lost the final to England.
After leaving the Asian Football Confederation for political and security reasons in the 1970s, Israel is now a member of UEFA and plays in Europe.
The FIFA Under-20 Men’s World Cup is marketed as “the event of tomorrow’s superstars.”
Former winners of the official player of the tournament title include Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Paul Pogba, with Erling Haaland being the tournament’s leading scorer in 2019.