Predictable. FIFA announced via a statement on Wednesday 29 March that it has withdrawn the organization of the next Men’s World Cup under 20 years from Indonesia. It should take place from May 20 to June 11, 2023. The body is quite vague about the reasons for this withdrawal, citing the “current context.” But there is no doubt that its decision, taken this week after a meeting in Zurich between Gianni Infantino and the president of the Indonesian Football Federation, Erick Thohir, is directly related to the cancellation last week of the draw of the world tournament. According to several sources in Indonesia, it was decided because of the opposition of the governor of Bali to the presence of Israel, whose team has qualified for the World Cup for the first time under 20 years. Indonesia and Israel have no diplomatic relations, and Jakarta has never hidden its support for the Palestinian cause. “I did my best. After delivering a letter from President Jokowi and extensive discussions with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, we have to accept the decision to cancel the event that we were both looking forward to,” said Erick Thohir, quoted in a statement from the Indonesian Football Association. At this stage, the international body has not yet announced a plan B, explaining that a new host country will be designated “as soon as possible“. But it says the dates of the tournament remain unchanged for now. FIFA also suggests that the Indonesian federation could be sanctioned, but without questioning its support for Indonesian soccer and its authority, after the tragedy last October, when a giant stampede in a stadium on the island of Java caused the death of 135 people.
— Published 30 March 2023