Indonesia stripped of U20 World Cup hosting by FIFA

ZURICH (AP) — Indonesia was stripped of hosting the men’s Under-20 World Cup on Wednesday amid political unrest over Israel’s participation.

FIFA said Indonesia had been dropped from hosting the 24-team tournament which was due to start on May 20 “due to current circumstances” without specifying details.

The decision came after a meeting in Doha between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Indonesian Football Federation President Erick Thohir.

Israel qualified for their first Under-20 World Cup in June. The country’s participation in Friday’s draw in Bali has sparked political opposition this month.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world and has no official diplomatic relations with Israel, while publicly supporting the Palestinian cause.

Indonesia’s hosting was thrown into doubt on Sunday when FIFA postponed the draw.

It is unclear who could now host the tournament, which was to be played in six stadiums in Indonesia.

Argentina, who did not qualify for the tournament, are said to be interested in hosting.

“A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with tournament dates currently remaining unchanged,” FIFA said.

The Indonesian football federation could be disciplined even more by FIFA. A suspension could drop Indonesia from Asian qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, which begins in October.

Indonesian football and public authorities accepted FIFA’s hosting requirements in 2019 before being selected to host the 2021 edition of the Under-20 World Cup. The coronavirus pandemic forced the tournament to be postponed for two years.

Israel qualified for their first Under-20 World Cup by reaching the semi-finals of the European Under-19 Championship. The team then lost to England in this final.

Israel plays in Europe as a member of UEFA after leaving the Asian Football Confederation in the 1970s for political and security reasons.

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