Indonesia consider quitting AFF after controversial refereeing

By Hoang Nguyen   August 29, 2023 | 06:50 am PT
Indonesia consider quitting AFF after controversial refereeing
Indonesia national team manager Kombes Pol Sumardji. Photo by PSSI
National football team manager Kombes Pol Sumardji said Indonesia might withdraw from the AFF Cup after what he called bad officiating that cost his squad the AFF U23 final against Vietnam.

Sumardji expressed his dissatisfaction with the decisions of Japanese referee Hiroki Kasahara at the AFF U23 championship match last Saturday, especially when the official did not penalize Vietnam’s Nguyen Hong Phuc for hitting defender Haykal Alhafiz in the face, Indonesian newspaper Tribun Medan reported.

The replay showed that Phuc’s play at the 113th minute might have been intentional, but Kasahara did not book him.

Frustrated Indonesian fans have since taken their frustration about the call to social media and online football forums, where they have made a lot of noise.

The hashtag "GoodByeAFF" began trending on social media after Achsanul Qosasi, president of Indonesian club Madura United, advised Indonesia to quit Southeast Asian football. He suggested the first move be withdrawing from the 2024 AFF Cup.

Qosasi’s statement received support from a large number of Indonesia fans, and even Sumardji has publicly agreed with it.

Sumardji said the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) wants to have meetings and discussions before deciding to withdraw from the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) tournaments.

"Perhaps we should reconsider competing in AFF tournaments because the referees always make it difficult for Indonesia," Sumardji said.

Indonesia have considered leaving AFF before.

Similar considerations came up last year at the AFF U19 Championship in July. Critics said that poor officiating had allowed Vietnam and Thailand to play without sportsmanship in the last game of the group stage, which ended as a draw and led to Indonesia's early elimination.

PSSI lodged official complaints to the AFF and Indonesian representatives said the country’s football program might quit the local organization and join the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) instead.

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