27 Mar 2023, 13:43

FIFA U-20 World Cup draw in Indonesia nixed after call for Israel ban

JAKARTA, March 27, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - The draw for the men's FIFA Under-20 
World Cup in Indonesia has been cancelled, officials said, days after Bali's 
governor called for Israel to be kicked out of the competition.

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

Fixtures for the 24-nation tournament beginning in May were due to be chosen 
on Friday in Bali, but FIFA cancelled the event without giving a reason or 
setting a new date, the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) said in a 
statement Sunday.

Officials said a likely factor in the draw's cancellation was a call by Bali 
governor Wayan Koster for Israel to be banned over its policies towards 
Palestinians in a letter sent to the Ministry of Youth and Sports this month.

"The draw has been cancelled. We can understand that because there was a 
rejection from Bali's governor," PSSI executive committee member Arya 
Sinulingga told a press conference in Jakarta Sunday.

"Israel is a participant and the draw cannot be done without all 

FIFA did not respond to a request for comment.

Israel is due to take part in the tournament after qualifying for the first 
time, and Jakarta has pledged to protect its involvement.

Organisers had hoped hosting Israeli games on the Hindu-majority island of 
Bali would offer a buffer against local backlash, but Koster's opposition has 
cast that into doubt.

Around a hundred conservative Muslim demonstrators also marched in capital 
Jakarta this month to protest Israel's involvement.

Officials in Jakarta said they feared losing hosting rights to the country's 
first major tournament and being isolated by the world governing body if the 
situation was not resolved.

The country is also hosting the tournament under the cloud of one of the 
worst stadium disasters in the sport's history after 135 people died in an 
East Java stadium stampede in October.

Authorities have been trying to slowly rebuild the country's standing after 
FIFA suspended it from international football in 2015 for a year over 
government meddling in a domestic association.



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