The Plan for the Presence of the Israeli National Team in the U-20 Triggers Polemics
The implementation of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia is still two months away, but polemic has already erupted regarding Israel’s participation in the tournament. Understandably, Indonesia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations.
Any issue concerning Israel in the homeland is very sensitive because the majority of Muslim citizens support the struggle of the Palestinian people for independence, especially with the series of non-stop acts of violence committed by Israel. Various Islamic social organizations have expressed their disapproval and urged the government not to allow the Israeli national team.
Even so, the general chairman of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) Erick Tohir emphasized that he would still accept the presence of the Israeli national team. A similar statement was made by the Minister of Youth and Sports Zainuddin Amali.
University of Indonesia Middle East observer Yon Machmudi told VOA, Wednesday (8/3), explained that from a regulatory standpoint, Israel has the right and must be allowed to take part in the U-20 World Cup in Indonesia. However, this issue concerns Indonesia’s domestic politics, so it is necessary to study the extent to which the arrival of the Israeli national team has had an impact on dynamics in the country.
If the government still allows the Israeli national team to come, he continued, this will cause controversy or rejection from some components of society. “But if it’s allowed later, it means there must also be restrictions related to state symbols. It’s not enough just to play, but also flags, national anthems, and so on,” said Yon.
Yon reminded the government to be careful about granting permits, especially since the Israeli national team is a national representative. If he continues to give permission, he suggested that the government strictly prohibit the raising of the Israeli flag or the playing of the Israeli national anthem. This is important, added Yon, to emphasize Indonesia’s consistency in supporting the struggle of the Palestinian people.
MUI Rejects Israeli Team Attendance at U-20
The Head of Cooperation and Foreign Relations of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) Sudarnoto Abdul Hakim stated that the MUI rejected the presence of the Israeli national team. He explained that Indonesia is a country and a nation that continues to have a high commitment and is consistent in defending the Palestinian people and nation from Israeli aggression and colonization.
The Indonesian government also supports a two-state solution to create an independent and sovereign Palestine, but so far this has not been implemented.
In addition, continued Sudarnoto, Indonesia does not want to open diplomatic relations with Israel as long as Palestine is still occupied. This position is in accordance with the mandate of the Preamble of the 1945 Constitution which does not recognize colonialism on earth.
“Because we do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, there should not be the slightest space (for) Israeli citizens, including in matters of the U-20 World Cup, not to enter. Because with (the Israeli national team) entering, the government officially welcomes Israelis entered Indonesian territory with their attributes,” said Sudarnoto.
Sudarnoto added that he had reminded the government to invite the MUI and Islamic organizations to talk about the U-20 World Cup regarding Israel’s participation. But until now the government has never responded to this suggestion.
According to him, if the Israeli national team were to come to Indonesia, this could disappoint the Palestinian people and at the same time raise pros and cons in Indonesian society. Because of this, MUI asked the government to reconsider permission for the Israeli national team to come.
Invasion of Ukraine, FIFA Does Not Allow Russia to Participate in the 2022 World Cup
Although Israel’s participation in the U-20 World Cup is according to FIFA rules, Sudarnoto reminded FIFA that it also applies a double standard, namely eliminating Russia at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar for invading Ukraine. He thinks FIFA should write off Israel because it has been colonizing Palestine for decades.
Regarding sports, it must be separated from politics. He again stated that FIFA’s reason for dropping Russia at the 2022 World Cup was because it invaded Ukraine.
If the government continues to accept the presence of the Israeli national team, Sudarnoto warned that this issue could increase the political temperature in society ahead of the 2024 General Election. He is worried that there will be certain forces that will form elements of society.
He cited the presence of the Israeli national team in Jakarta later as a form of defeat for Indonesia’s diplomacy. He was referring to President Soekarno who in the past dared to realize his anti-Israel commitment by rejecting Israel’s participation in the 1962 Asian Games.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Makes 2023 a Strengthening of Support for Palestine
The government’s plan to allow Israel’s participation in the U-20 World Cup is in contrast to President Joko Widodo’s call to boycott Israel at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) high-level conference in 2016.
This attitude also contradicts the statement made by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi at the United Nations Security Council meeting earlier this year to make 2023 the year of strengthening support for Palestine as well as ending the Israeli occupation.
Meanwhile, the general chairman of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) Erick Thohir has stated that he will provide security guarantees for the Israeli national team coming to Indonesia for the U-20 World Cup. He said the state guaranteed the arrival of anyone who played in Indonesia according to the contract as the host.
“Especially regarding the teams that will play, I think the context is that we cannot see each country, that based on the host contract that the state guarantees the arrival of anyone who plays. If we cannot take a position of security, maybe Indonesia will no longer bid on events. international,” said Erick.
This guarantee does not only apply to the U-20 World Cup, but also to teams coming to Indonesia for other competitions. Erick also reminded that Indonesia still wants to bid for the 2036 Olympics, up to the 2034 World Cup.
The U-20 World Cup will take place in Indonesia from 20 May to 11 June 2023.[fw/em]