Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Getting to the finals is more important, says minister

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Tue, 01/26/2010 12:04 PM | Sports

Actually qualifying for the soccer world cup would be preferable to hosting the event, says State Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng.

The only way to get Indonesia onto the world soccer stage is to raise our team’s performance,” Andi said Monday at a press conference to unveil the FIFA World Cup Trophy at the Hotel Mulia in Jakarta.

“Only if we qualify for the finals will the rest of the world recognize us.

“We support the decision by the PSSI [Indonesian Soccer Association] during their recent congress in Bandung to intensify soccer development from very early on,” he went on.

“For us, the most important thing is to focus on the game’s development and improve our performance. It would be a point of pride to qualify for the World Cup finals, wherever they are held, and a source of shame should we keep losing.”

Andi’s remarks come in stark contrast to those previously made by PSSI chairman Nurdin Halid on Indonesia’s prospects for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The latter has repeatedly decried the lack of facilities through which the sport can be developed at an international level, blaming this for the national team’s string of poor results.

“The squad doesn’t even have its own training grounds,” Nurdin said at Monday’s press conference.

The PSSI has announced its bid to host the 2022 World Cup, despite the country’s relatively poor infrastructure, underperforming national team, and far stronger candidatures by other countries.

Others also gunning to host the 2022 finals are Australia, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Russia, joint bidders Belgium and the Netherlands, England, joint bidders Spain and Portugal, Mexico and the United States.

The FIFA World Cup Trophy is currently in Jakarta as part of a round-the-world tour organized by FIFA and longtime sponsor Coca-Cola, ahead of the 2010 finals in South Africa.

It arrived at Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport on Sunday, and goes on display to the public Tuesday at the Jakarta Convention Center, before heading for Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

The tour kicked off Sept. 21 last year at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, and will cover five continents and 134,000 kilometers before arriving in South Africa on May 4.

The sports minister said he hoped the trophy’s presence in Jakarta would help ignite the country’s spirit for the game.

“We’re not just supposed to embrace the excitement surrounding the World Cup, but also be inspired by it,” Andi said.

“My hope is one day we’ll qualify for the finals, and maybe even win.”