Blasts Deal Blow To Cup Hopes

By webadmin on 11:26 pm Jul 20, 2009
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Wimbo Satwiko

Friday’s bomb attacks in Jakarta left a black mark on Indonesian football that could prove costly years down the line.

Indonesia’s hopes of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup received a hammer blow when the bombings at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels forced Manchester United to cancel its tour stop in Jakarta.

Local organizing committee chairman Agum Gumelar said the attacks “hit us hard as Indonesians as it caused a big loss in every aspect.” Nurdin Halid, Agum’s successor as Indonesian Football Association chairman, was even more specific. “I can understand that United decided not to come to Jakarta because of the British Embassy’s recommendation,” he said. “In the long term, I really worry about our World Cup bid as any travel warning could hamper our efforts.”

FIFA announced in February that Indonesia was among the countries bidding to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cups along with Australia, England, Japan, Mexico, Russia and Qatar. Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as Spain and Portugal, made joint bids.

Football’s world governing body plans to assess the candidates between Dec. 14 and April 14, 2010, with the winners to be announced on Dec. 20, 2010.

Nurdin said he received positive indications from dignitaries including Franz Beckenbauer and former FIFA president Joao Havelange when he attended the FIFA World Congress in the Bahamas.

“It made me optimistic about the bidding process. But if there’s any travel warning during the period, it could cost us,” he said.

Of more immediate concern are other matches scheduled for Jakarta. Indonesia has home 2011 Asian Cup qualifiers against Kuwait on Nov. 18 and Oman on Jan. 6, 2010. It will also host the Asian Football Confederation U-19 Championship qualifying Group F, featuring Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, on Nov. 1-15.

Nurdin said relocating those matches out of Jakarta was a possibility, with Palembang, South Sumatra, as the first option and East Kalimantan the second.

Fans who held tickets for the Manchester United match will receive refunds. Event coordinator Joko Driyono said organizers would meet today to determine the refund process and announce their decision immediately afterward.

“We will need time to refund the money as it is a huge amount,” Agum said in a television interview on Sunday.

“If, let’s say, I have to sell my assets to refund the tickets, I will do that. But of course it will take time to sell those,” he said. “Trust me, I won’t be running away from my responsibilities.”

Agum flew to Kuala Lumpur on Friday evening to meet with Manchester United officials and try to persuade them to play the friendly. The club stood by its decision to cancel, citing logistical problems in bringing the Indonesian All-Stars to Malaysia.

“They said that they still want to come to Indonesia because the [United] fans here are the most numerous in the world,” Agum said. “They said they will come back in the near future.”