Indonesian FA reduces 2-year ban on Surabaya

Arya Abhiseka of FootballAsia reports that the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) has reduced the two-year ban handed out to the 2004 Liga Indonesia champions, Persebaya Surabaya, for withdrawing from September's 2005 Djarum League championship playoff, to 16 months. Persebaya was charged with bringing the game into the disrepute for refusing to play its final playoff group game against Persija Jakarta last month after they had been eliminated from contention. The game was awarded to Persija, who booked their place in the Grand Final against Persipura Jayapura after receiving the three points.

PSSI's disciplinary committee banned the East Java-based team from competing in the domestic professional league for a period of two years, fined the club Rp 25 million and, in addition, Abhiseka earlier reported, said the club would have to recommence in Division II after the two years penalty was served. "Togar Manahan Nero, Chairman of the PSSI's disciplinary committee, told the press that the decision to ban Persebaya - a team with one of the largest fan-base in Indonesia - was final and that Persebaya would not be able to appeal", he wrote.

The latest report states that while the banning period was reduced to one season, the fine has been increased to Rp 150 million and the club has been "asked" to return its "subsidy of Rp 300 million". However, confusingly, the PSSI "have yet to decide in which division Persebaya will play after serving their ban".

Persebaya’s chairman, Bambang Dwi Haryono, had caused the problem by ordering the team to return from Jakarta, in western Java, to Surabaya citing that several members of their notoriously unruly supporters group, Bonek (meaning "we have nothing but our spirit") had been kidnapped and tortured, allegations which were vehemently denied by the Jakarta city police. Mr Bambang is the Mayor of Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city, having been elected for a 5-year term in June this year. Most Indonesian clubs are owned by local or provincial governments.

PSSI duly banned him from participating in the sport for 10 years. Mr Nero said that Bambang must take most of the blame for Persebaya's decision to abandon their campaign while the competition was still underway. "Bambang is liable to maximum punishment as stated in article 27," he said. Bambang was not present during the proceedings of the disciplinary commission. He sent a sealed letter in which he reportedly said the pullout was his decision and no other team officials were involved. Team manager Saleh Mukadar and executive chairman H. Susanto were spared punishment.

Persebaya is the only professional team in Surabaya and won the league title in 1997 and 2004. In 2002 they were penalized for pulling out of a game against Pupuk Kaltim Bontang, and in 1988 they were involved in an infamous12-0 “defeat” to Persipura Jayapura, which eliminated PSIS from the play-offs.

See also: Riot disrupts conclusion to Indonesian final (26 Sept)