With the tournament only seven weeks away, FIFA have dumped Indonesia as the host country for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in which New Zealand are due to play.
FIFA says the tournament will go ahead from May 20 till June 11 but in a different, yet-to-be-named country.
Main photo: The New Zealand team celebrate their qualification for the U-20 World Cup at September’s OFC U-19 Championship in Tahiti. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
The tournament draw was due to be made on Friday (March 31) with 24 teams learning their groups and opponents but it’s not clear whether that will go ahead, or whether Indonesia will remain in the draw, as it is no longer the host.
In February, New Zealand took part in a four-nation U-20 tournament in Indonesia to help prepare for the World Cup tournament.
READ MORE: Our previous stories about the FIFA U-20 World Cup >>>>
FIFA: ‘New host to be named’
Announcing its decision, FIFA says that “due to the current circumstances” it had decided to remove Indonesia as host, following a meeting between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and President of the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) Erick Thohir.
“A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged. Potential sanctions against the PSSI may also be decided at a later stage,” the statement says.
Though the statement does not spell out the reasons for the decision, FIFA says “it remains committed to actively assisting the PSSI, in close cooperation and with the support of the government of President Widodo, in the transformation process of Indonesian football following the tragedy that occurred in October 2022.”
This refers to a stampede at a club game in Malang, East Java, last year when an estimated 135 spectators died at the stadium.
Some media reports link the cancellation of Indonesia’s hosting to comments made by the governor of the island of Bali in which he refused to host the Israeli team due to play at the tournament.
Asked why Indonesia had been removed as hosts, Zainudin Amali, deputy PSSI chief and former sports minister, told KompasTV: “FIFA decided Indonesia didn’t follow through with its earlier commitments while bidding.”
PSSI said losing hosting rights would harm Indonesian football teams’ chances of taking part in other FIFA tournaments, while the economic losses would amount to “trillions of rupiah.”
- Indonesia (participation doubtful)
- Dominican Republic (CONCACAF)
- Guatemala (CONCACAF)
- Honduras (CONCACAF)
- United States (CONCACAF)
- Fiji (OFC)
- New Zealand (OFC)
- England (UEFA)
- France (UEFA)
- Italy (UEFA)
- Israel (UEFA)
- Slovakia (UEFA)
- Brazil (CONMEBOL)
- Colombia (CONMEBOL)
- Ecuador (CONMEBOL)
- Uruguay (CONMEBOL)
- Gambia (CAF)
- Nigeria (CAF)
- Senegal (CAF)
- Tunisia (CAF)
- Iraq (AFC)
- Uzbekistan (AFC)
- Japan (AFC)
- South Korea (AFC)