Artikel ini saya tulis untuk disebarkan di Anfield oleh Denny Hartanto dkk tempo hari. Sebenarnya artikel ini saya sebar ke berbagai media asing dan blog sepakbola independen, kebanyakan menolaknya dengan alasan terlalu sensitif secara politis.
The year 2011 is only two months old, but revolutions in the Middle East have already defined the trend. From Cairo to Benghazi, the oppressed people stand out against their oppressors, making sure that the authoritarian regimes would see the end of their era. Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is quite content at the moment with the political climate, knowing that he’s not going to face the same fate as Husni Mubarak anytime soon, but people of Indonesia are currently revolting against another sovereignty. A footballing one.
In term of football, Indonesia have their own dictator, a Gaddafi who wouldn’t mind to sacrifice his own people in order to achieve his objectives. Enter Nurdin Halid, the head of Indonesian FA, a man loathed so much in this country, even Guardian picked him as the best FA official last year for paying $250.000 bonus to national players using a cardboard box, a method which is not uncommon among criminals since wire-transferring is too prone for police investigation.
Nurdin was a convict himself. Since his appointment as FA chairman in 2003, he has been jailed twice for committing two different crimes. He was sentenced 2 years for tax fraud in 2005 but freed a year later. In 2007, he was detained one more time after found guilty for illegal sugar trading. This time he completed his two-years sentence.
On Wednesday (23/2), thousands of football fans from across the nation gathered in the front of FA headquarter, demanding Nurdin to step down from his throne, a thing that should had been done a few years back because FIFA’s statue clearly says that FA chairman must not have been someone who was previously found guilty of a criminal offense. Indonesian FA, in order to keep Nurdin on his throne while serving his sentence at the same time, changed their statute on purpose. They erased the phrase “have been previously” from the statute which is now read “….must not found guilty of a criminal offense”. Simple eradication which gives a whole new meaning.
Football awareness is currently high among Indonesian people since last year’s AFF Cup which saw the country failed to lift the country after beaten by rival Malaysia in two-legged finals. Reaching finals is usually quite an achievement for any football team, but not for Indonesia who never won anything since 1991. Nurdin sparked national anger when he brought the whole national team in his political tour a few days before match day which could had been used for rest and preparation. After losing the finals, Nurdin was easily blamed as the players looked fairly exhausted on the pitch.
He caused greater controversy when in one occasion he said that national team’s success, if any, was belong to Golkar, a major political party which sees him as one of the officers. A narcisstic persona yet fearing further public condemnation, his PR campaigns including unfurling banners all over Jakarta’s main streets, giving impression that public backed him up despite the fact that there’s a bounty for his head, and organising mob to physically intimidate any supporters’ resistance against his regime.
As the FA chairman election looming large – the event will take place in Bali next month, protests have been held all over the country, including Nurdin’s home town, Makassar, after FA verification team eliminated another running candidates, Arifin Panigoro and George Toisutta, for undisclosed reasons.
Thousands of concerned fans let themselves heard after sealing the FA office and straightened giant banner covering the building with the word “Revolution” on it, but Nurdin remains unmoved. Youth and Sports minister, Andi Alfian Malarangeng, has urged the FA to resolve the matter immediately, but the stone-headed FA chairman sees it as a threat from government which could put the whole organisation in jeopardy.
“I think he (the minister) had the right to speak up his mind, but he’s a minister, he should be neutral to accommodate people’s needs. This is an example of arrogance, abuse of power,” said Nurdin recently.
Hearing Nurdin uttering such concern about “abuse of power” is simply as convincing as seeing Kim Jong Il speaking about democracy, Sarah Palin praising Barack Obama, or Sheikh Mansour of Manchester City talking about financial fairplay.
There’s been major disbelief at domestic competition, vaguely named Indonesian Super League. Accusations have been thrown that the winners of the league had been determined by the FA each season, depends on which club was favoured by the Association in exchange with political support for local government election. Most clubs in Indonesia are being run and owned by local governments, injected by local government budget each year, hence the clubs are not fit to earn professional status. With so many interests mixed in one bowl, it’s not that hard to understand a political transaction that could be done by the FA and local governments via their respective football clubs. Given the situation, Indonesia understandably have been performing poorly in international football because its elements have been decayed from the core.
The fans are now aspiring for the government to intervene the FA, a decision that almost certainly will see Indonesian FA frozen by FIFA and prohibited from competing in any international tournament since the world’s highest football body doesn’t recognize any interference. Banned from international football is no longer a concern for the fans.
As Andreas Marbun, one of the resistance leaders put it, “There’s no use of keep competing in international level only to be humiliated further. Our football is rotten, our FA is corrupt. If such ban is sanctioned by FIFA, we could use the spare time to sweep all the culprits from our football.”
Considering Nurdin’s Machiavellian approach, the revolution is still a long way to go.