Matches without spectators ‘not an option’ says Indonesian football chief

Indonesian national football team supporters (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images)

The chief of the Indonesian football federation (PSSI), Mochamad Iriawan, has said there is no possibility of matches going ahead even behind closed doors while the Covid-19 virus is still active in the country.

During a recent meeting with the government, Iriawan rejected the idea of continuing the country’s professional football league without spectators, an idea proposed by several members of the House Commission overseeing sports, The Jakarta Post reported.

“Looking at the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, we decided it was best to postpone the league. Even if we continued the league without spectators, there would still be at least 50 people required for a match,” said Iriawan.

He added: “Organising matches without spectators would also result in losses for both clubs and operators. If sponsors withdraw, PSSI and the operators could go bankrupt, as 80 per cent of the income comes from them. We have discussed this option. Fifa hands over the decision to each federation regarding the matter but still urges safety on top of everything.”

Jakarta last week became the first Indonesian region to impose large-scale social restrictions, including prohibiting gatherings of more than five people.

The PSSI recently extended its postponement of all competitions until May 29. The top-tier Liga 1, which kicked off on February 29, has been suspended since its third match week. Second-tier Liga 2 only held one round before suspension on March 14.