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Indonesia loses U20 World Cup after Bali refuses to host Israel

TJI Wrap
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Published: 31 March 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Soccer’s world body FIFA has revoked Indonesia as host of the international event.

While the official FIFA statement did not give a reason for the removal of Indonesia, the decision follows the refusal by the governor of Bali to host the Israeli team. tA second provincial governor is also believed to have refused to host Israel.

FIFA said it is considering potential sanctions against the Football Association of Indonesia. (

Conservative Muslim groups marched in Jakarta last week opposing Israel’s participation in the Cup. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation and strongly supports the Palestinian cause.

Waving flags bearing the Islamic declaration of faith along with Indonesian and Palestinian flags, more than 100 demonstrators filled a major thoroughfare in downtown Jakarta. They halted traffic, chanting “Allahu Akbar” and “Get out Israel from U-20 World Cup.” Authorities blocked streets leading to the Presidential Palace.

The protest was organised by a conservative Muslim alliance that held mass demonstrations in 2016 against Jakarta’s ethnic Chinese Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, which led to him being imprisoned for blasphemy.

Several moderate Muslim groups in the country also joined in calls for the Israeli players to be denied a place in the tournament. They included Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organisation, Muhammadiyah, which has more than 60 million members, Medical Emergency Rescue Committee, widely known as Mer-C, and the Indonesian Ulema Council,

 Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday that Israeli participation in the tournament is unrelated to the country’s position on Palestine.

Indonesia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations but there have been recent advances in economic contacts. Israel sent aid following the 2018 earthquake and tsunami.

There is only one synagogue in Indonesia, in Tondano in the country’s north. A past synagogue in the southern city of Surabaya, which had been the site of anti-Israel protests in the past, was demolished in 2013. 

 Many Muslim clerics and politicians opposed the opening of a Holocaust museum in Indonesia last year.

Israel has qualified for the first time for the 24-team tournament, which was scheduled to be held from May 20-June 11 across six cities in Indonesia.

FIFA said the competition would go ahead on schedule. It has not yet announced a replacement host, although a former FIFA official told the ABC it would go to Peru.

FIFA removes Indonesia as host of FIFA U-20 World Cup (FIFA)

VIDEO: FIFA reportedly strips Indonesia of U20 World Cup hosting rights (ABC)

Dozens in Indonesia protest Israel’s planned presence at Under-20 soccer World Cup (Times of Israel)

Explainer: The Israel-Indonesia soccer dispute (Al-Monitor)

Photo: A protester shouts slogans as she holds a placard during a rally against Israel in Jakarta on March 20 (EPA/MAST IRHAM)

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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