Tuesday is the deadline for prospective 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts to submit official letters guaranteeing government backing of their bids. As of late Monday evening, Indonesia had yet to do so.
Without that letter, Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) deputy secretary general Dali Tahir admitted the country’s chances of hosting the 2022 World Cup were almost zero.
“The guarantee letter is very important. Without backing from the government, Indonesia will be disqualified from the bidding process,” Dali said on Monday. “If we don’t take the opportunity now, we’ll have to wait for another 20 years.
“President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Minister of Youth and Sport Andi Alifian Mallarangeng are the key figures to make this bid happen. We plead to them. It’s not just a PSSI event, it’s a big event for Indonesians.”
Dali, who also serves on FIFA’s ethics committee, said not having an official letter kept the country from exploring other possibilities, including a joint bid.
“FIFA has confirmed the 2022 World Cup will be held in Asia. Australia and Indonesia have a chance, but Australia doesn’t want to face us head-to-head,” he said. “They prefer to have us as a strategic ally. But without the guarantee letter, it’s impossible to join forces with Australia.”
Representatives from FIFA were not immediately available for comment on Monday.
FIFA accepted Indonesia’s bid in March 2009, adding it to a list of 2018 and 2022 hopefuls that included Australia, England, Japan, Qatar, Russia, South Korea and the United States, plus joint bids from Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands.
Andi, despite his reluctance to say no, hinted the government would not issue the letter.
“As the president said, the PSSI must put the focus on revitalizing football development in the country, not anything else,” Andi said on Monday, repeating the stance he put forth last week.
“We have to pull ourselves to the top of the Southeast Asian region again, then we’ll have to be one of Asia’s best. After that, we can talk about the World Cup.”
When asked if that meant the government would not issue the guarantee letter, Andi smiled but remained silent.
Joko Driyono, vice chairman of Indonesia’s bid committee, insisted on continuing the bid.
“We see the signs that the government won’t support the bid. We’ll continue the process to send a message that Indonesia can be an alternative to host other FIFA events, such as the [Under-20] World Cup,” Joko said.
“[The U-20 World Cup] runs parallel with the government’s priority to improve national football performance through youth development.”
Staff reporter Ami Afriatni contributed to this story