Indonesia stripped of hosting U-20 World Cup after calls to ban Israeli team

Israel's involvement sparked protests in Jakarta from conservative Muslims


Switzerland's defender Manuel Akanji (L) kicks the ball next to Israel's forward Tai Baribo (C) and Switzerland's defender Ricardo Rodriguez (R) during the UEFA Euro 2024 qualification football match between Switzerland and Israel at Stade de Geneve in Geneva on March 28, 2023. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, has been stripped of hosting the men’s Under-20 World Cup after calls to ban Israel’s participation in the tournament.

FIFA says Indonesia was removed from staging the 24-team tournament scheduled to start on May 20 “due to the current circumstances” without specifying details.

The decision followed a meeting in Doha, Qatar between Indonesian soccer federation president Erick Thohir and Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA.

Thohir said as a member of FIFA, Indonesia had little choice but to accept the decision.

Israel qualified in June of last year for its first Under-20 World Cup but its participation in the official draw for tournament groups, scheduled to be held Friday in Bali, provoked opposition this month when conservative Muslims took to the streets of Jakarta to protest Israel’s involvement.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Tuesday evening that his administration objected to Israel’s participation. He told citizens that the country agreed to host before knowing Israel would qualify.

Indonesia does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

It is unclear who will now host the tournament, which was scheduled to be played in six stadiums across Indonesia. Argentina is reportedly interested in hosting despite not qualifying for the tournament.

“A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged,” FIFA said.

The Indonesian soccer federation could be further disciplined by FIFA and a suspension could remove Indonesia from Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup. The continental qualifiers start in October.

FIFA staff will continue to work in Indonesia in the months ahead, the governing body said, “under the leadership of President Thohir.”

Israel qualified for the tournament by reaching the semifinals of the Under-19 European Championship. The team went on to lose to England in that final.

Israel plays in Europe as a member of UEFA after leaving the Asian Football Confederation in the 1970s for political and security reasons.

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