Sun, 07 Mar 1999

PSSI to proceed soccer with soccer league playoffs

JAKARTA (JP): The All Indonesian Soccer Federation (PSSI) has decided to hold the Indonesian league playoffs at Senayan stadium complex in Central Jakarta and has prepared a contingency plan to avert any possible unrest.

Maj. Gen. Sartomo, head of the playoffs' organization committee, expressed his wish that the matches proceed as scheduled without any of the security disturbances that have often occurred when spectators are not satisfied with the result.

"I hope there will not be unrest. I would like to call on the players and soccer fanatics to restrain themselves from attacking each other as we want to preserve the country's image abroad," he told reporters after attending a draw to determine the grouping of 10 clubs from three regional conferences vying for three championship berths.

He said that PSSI would immediately move the rest of the matches to soccer fields at a military training complex at Cimahi, West Java should any incident happen.

"The playoffs must continue no matter what happens, or there will be an image abroad that this country is no longer safe," he said.

The playoffs will be from March 16 to March 26.

PSSI originally planned to hold them in Jakarta, Surabaya in East Java and Medan in North Sumatra, but changed its mind and named Jakarta the host of the championship's second round.

The association terminated last season's league just before the playoff stage due to security concerns.

Before PSSI decided to hold the soccer matches in Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan, it was considering having the matches played at military complexes including the National Military Academy in Magelang inCentral Java and the Air Force Academy at Yogyakarta, but the plan was put off due to accommodation difficulties.

Tondo Widodo, the association's spokesman, said PSSI had also set out preventative measures aimed at screening out the spectators who really want to see a match from any irresponsible parties who wished to spark commotions.

Tondo added that the security around the stadium be placed in different areas, so anyone entering the stadium will be a real spectator.

"The security men will keep an eye on spectators who enter the stadium without any tickets. We don't want to repeat last year's incident where many people entering the stadium did not possess a ticket," he said.

He also said that ticket prices have been raised.

Entry to the West VIP stand is Rp 20,000, First Class and East VIP Rp 10,000 while the cheapest is Rp 5,000.

For the semifinal and final rounds, tickets for the West VIP are Rp 25,000, First Class and East VIP Rp 15,000 and Rp 5,000 the remainder.

Hartono Purnomo Sidhi, who is training the Persebaya Surabaya team, said that his team would not bring its supporters to Jakarta for fear of inciting unrest.

"We won't prevent them if they want to come here on their own account. We only wish they maintain order here to keep up the good image of our team, Surabaya and East Java in general," he said.

Surabaya's soccer fanatics, popularly known as bonek, an acronym for bondo nekat, are famous for their zealous support of the team, and their participation in almost every match involving Persebaya inevitably leads to chaos. (ivy)