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Indonesian police partners with military to tackle match fixing

Indonesian national football team supporters during the AFF U19 Cup Final match between Indonesia and Vietnam. (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images)

Indonesia’s National Police is to work with the country’s Military Police to tackle match fixing and to ensure transparency during the national team’s recruitment process for the upcoming U20 Fifa World Cup.

Last October, Fifa appointed Indonesia host of the U20 World Cup in 2021, after a vote at the governing body’s council meeting in Shanghai.

National Police chief General Idham Aziz this month created a match fixing task force, to run for the next three months. A similar task force in 2019 uncovered match fixing in the Indonesian Liga 3 match between Persikasi Bekasi and Perses Sumedang, resulting in the arrest of six suspects.

Funding shortfalls for player salaries and club operations, conflicts of interest within the country’s football federation the PSSI, and weak law enforcement have made Indonesian footballers and administrators easy targets for match-fixing gangs.

Indonesian authorities, including the PSSI and the police, are keen to ensure that there are no compromised players during the national team’s recruitment process for the U20 World Cup. The country’s president Joko Widono has said the World Cup is “a perfect stage to promote Indonesia”.

Jakarta Police spokesperson and senior commissioner Yusri Yunus said earlier this month: “Everything will be transparent. There should not be any undesirable events occurring (during the recruitment process).”

Deputy National Police chief commissioner general Gatot Eddy Pramono said yesterday: “We hope our collaboration with POM TNI [the military police] can strengthen efforts at creating a clean, dignified and high-achieving (Indonesian) soccer scene.”

The match-fixing task force will liaise with other stakeholders, Pramono said: “We’ve been working together with the PSSI chairman, the youth and sports minister, and the management of (soccer) clubs.”

The new moves to crack down on match-fixing follow the November 2019 election of Mochamad Iriawan, a police commissioner general, as head of the PSSI. He was elected with a brief to deal with the match-fixing and fan violence that have plagued Indonesian football in recent years. The former West Java Police and Jakarta Police chief is the first PSSI leader with a police background. The post has traditionally been taken by figures from the Indonesian military, including its last chief Edy Rahmayadi. Rahmayadi resigned after a match-fixing scandal.

In October, Fifa fined the PSSI $45,000 (€41,000) for crowd trouble at the qualifier between Indonesia and Malaysia in Jakarta on September 5. The game was halted after home fans threw flares and water bottles at the away section.