Indonesia president says FIFA boss offered help to fix country's football issues

The president says he had spoken by phone on Monday to FIFA President Gianni Infantino who offered his support

Reuters
Published : 5 Oct 2022, 02:06 PM
Updated : 5 Oct 2022, 02:06 PM

Indonesia President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday that football's world governing body FIFA had offered to help his country to address its football problems, having spoken to FIFA chief Gianni Infantino over a deadly stadium stampede.

In one of the world's worst football disasters, hundreds of fans were crushed as they tried to flee the overpacked stadium in Indonesia's East Java region on Saturday, after police fired tear gas to disperse agitated supporters of the losing side Arema FC, who had poured onto the pitch.

Authorities said at least 131 people died, among them 33 minors.

The president, commonly known as Jokowi, said he had ordered a full audit of stadia across the country to ensure compliance with safety and security protocols.

He said he had spoken by phone on Monday to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who offered his support.

"He said if needed, FIFA can help fix Indonesia's football management," he said, referring to Infantino.

Football is hugely popular in the country of 270 million people, where the sport has had its fair share of problems, from hooliganism and heavy-handed policing to event mismanagement.

Asked earlier about the possibility of FIFA sanctions over the disaster, Jokowi said that was a matter for FIFA to decide.

FIFA, which called the incident "a tragedy beyond comprehension" has asked Indonesia's soccer federation for a full report.

FIFA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Wednesday.

Indonesia has set up a fact-finding team comprised of football experts, academics and ministry officials in hopes to reveal the culprits, and its police are currently investigating dozens of its officers over a suspected ethical breach, having suspended nine of them.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher