Indonesia have launched a new domestic football tournament on Saturday despite being under a FIFA suspension, which was officially opened by the country’s president Joko Widodo.
The tournament, which is labelled as Piala Kemerdekaan (Independence Cup), became the first football activities in Indonesia after the government suspended their football association (PSSI) over a row about the legality of two clubs, Arema Cronus and Persebaya Surabaya.
Following the dispute, FIFA decided to ban the largest South-East Asian nation in May, resulted in Team Garuda being expelled from the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup joint qualifiers as well as several AFF Youth Championship competitions.
Piala Kemerdekaan run under supervision of Transition Team, featured the 24 lower league teams split into four groups and has kicked off its first match when Persekap Pasuruan won 2-0 over Madiun Putra at Wilis Stadium.
“Good luck (for all teams) and keep the sportsmanship on its track,” said Joko Widodo after officially opening the tournament in Serang, on Saturday night’s match between Perserang Serang and Persidago Gorontalo.
Meanwhile, the PSSI through Mahaka Sports as promoter, has also announced to run another tournament called Piala Presiden (President Cup), which will feature 18 top flight teams next month.
Piala Kemerdekaan 2015:
Group A: PSMS Medan, PSPS Pekanbaru, Persires, Lampung FC, Persitara, Kalteng Putra.
Group B: Perserang Serang, Cilegon United, Persika Karawang, Persidago Gorontalo, PS Yahukimo, Mojokerto Putra.
Group C: Persepam Madura Utama, Madiun Putra, Persekap Kota Pasuruan, Persatu Tuban, Persinga Ngawi, Persebo Bondowoso.
Group D: Persis Solo, Persibangga Purbalingga, Persiba Bantul, PSIR Rembang, PPSM Magelang, PSS Sleman.