Friday, December 17, 2010
Is Indonesian Football Getting Sexy?
It is widely accepted that Euro 96 held in England completed the transformation for English football from a game where hooligans held sway to a family day out where face painters and brass bands created a totally different atmosphere. Are we seeing history repeat in Indonesia?
Alfred Riedl’s team have given a buzz to Indonesians and they have responded by rushing to buy replica shirts and match tickets. Everybody it seems wants to be a part of the party, everyone from politicians to celebrities.
This sea change reflects the change that has come over Indonesia over the last few years. Political stability coupled with economic growth, especially while much of the rest of the world has been suffering a nightmare economic crisis, has brought the confidence back to a country usually associated, in the minds of the main stream media, with terrorism and natural disasters.
Two years ago Indonesia reached the semi final of the AFF Cup but there was no real feeling that they would go on and win the trophy. They blustered their way past Myanmar and Cambodia but come the big boys, Singapore and Thailand, they slipped into default mode and succumbed with barely a whisper.
Not now. The team is flying, playing good football and the new breed of fan have their own heroes in Oktavianus and Irfan Bachdim.
The big question though, and one that the FA needs to address, is translating this support for the national team into more bums on seats at the Indonesia Super League and the Divisi Utama. Will the new fan follow their local team in a league where incompetence is rife? Where blatant favouritism occurs, where crowd misbehavior is fairly commonplace?
Are the FA up to the task?
Your points on incompetence and favoritism are well-taken, but the league seems to keep ticking over despite those who run it and the country. I'm sure the clubs would like to see an increased interest in football translate into more sponsorship money from businesses or governments, but that would fall more on the people running the clubs than the PSSI.