Commentary: After deadly stampede, Indonesian football reaches a tipping point


The country is due to host next year’s FIFA men’s Under-23 World Cup and is in the running to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. These are major tournaments, the hosting of which confer significant reputational, economic and political benefits upon a country.

Losing the right to stage one tournament and failing to gain the right to host another would damage Indonesia, at a time when its international stature is growing.

FIFA particularly will be monitoring developments very carefully. As custodian of the global game, it will not want to be staging a tournament in a country where the threat of hooligan violence is omnipotent.

Violence – or worse than that, fan deaths – would reflect badly upon FIFA, affecting its image, reputation and commercial activities. The latter is especially important for the Switzerland-based governing body, which financially can ill afford to upset sponsors and broadcasters by staging matches that are potentially fraught with menace and aggression.

What took place last weekend should never have happened. Indonesia and its authorities must ensure it never happens again.

Perhaps we are at a tipping point and major changes will be instigated. Perhaps Indonesian football is about to enter a new age, characterised by better organisation and management. Perhaps the country will ascend to a new position in the world of football.

The question is, does the country have the political, economic and social will to make the changes that are necessary?

Simon Chadwick is Professor of Sport and Geopolitical Economy, Skema Business School in Paris.

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