The Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) announced that FIFA allows supporters to raise the Palestinian flag in stadiums during the U-17 World Cup 2023. PSSI chairman, Erick Thohir, said he had coordinated the matter with the world football’s governing body.
Erick said FIFA had no problem with the flying of the Palestinian flag as a symbol of support for humanity and protection of human rights.
“FIFA values freedom of expression, moreover the protection of human rights and humanity. This is in the context of the raising of the Palestinian flag. So PSSI emphasizes that there are no bans, let alone sanctions,” Erick said as quoted from the PSSI’s official page on Thursday, Nov. 9.
The biennial youth tournament is set to kick off on Friday, November 10, and will run until December 2, 2023, in Jakarta, Bandung, Solo, and Surabaya. As the host nation, Indonesia will take on Ecuador in Group A in their opening match on Friday at the Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium in Surabaya.
According to PSSI’s social media account, tickets for the opening match were sold out the day before the match, or on Thursday, Nov. 9.
Previously, PSSI’s Disciplinary Committee fined Persiraja Banda Aceh, one of the Indonesian League 2 clubs, Rp10 million after spectators raised Palestinian flags on the field following the match against Semen Padang FC on October 21, 2023.
Tempo observed that the flag-raising took place shortly after the referee blew the long whistle to signal the end of the match. At that time, the opposing players and match officials were still present.
Erick clarified that the issue was not the flying of the Palestinian flag, but the pitch invasion. “We are very strict in implementing security standards on the field after the Kanjuruhan tragedy,” he stressed.
Echoing Erick Thohir’s sentiments, the Chairman of the PSSI Legal Committee, Ahmad Riyadh, said supporters could show their solidarity with Palestine in the stadium seats and stands. However, Riyadh called on fans to refrain from invading the pitch as this would violate regulations and safety.