Jakarta (ANTARA) - Chairperson of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) Erick Thohir said on Wednesday that he worked very hard to retain Indonesia's U-20 World Cup hosting rights during his meeting with FIFA president Gianni Infantino in Doha, Qatar.

However, Indonesia is a FIFA member so it has to abide by the rules, he added.

"I have worked really hard. After delivering a letter from President Joko Widodo and having long talks with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, we must accept FIFA's decision to cancel the event that we have been looking forward to," he said in a statement posted on PSSI's website.

"We must be strong. I ask all football lovers to keep their heads held high over this tough decision. It's time we prove to FIFA to work harder to transform football toward clean and high-achieving football," he added.

The football governing body on Wednesday announced its decision to drop Indonesia as the host of this year’s U-20 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place from May 20 to June 11.

The decision to remove Indonesia as the host was taken after PSSI said on March 26, 2023, that it had canceled the drawing event that was scheduled to take place in Bali on March 31 because of the Bali Governor’s refusal to welcome Israel's national team.

"FIFA has decided, due to the current circumstances, to remove Indonesia as the host of the FIFA U-20 World Cup2023," FIFA said in a statement.

"A new host will be announced as soon as possible, with the dates of the tournament currently remaining unchanged. Potential sanctions against the PSSI may also be decided at a later stage,” it added.

FIFA did not provide further details regarding the reasons for stripping Indonesia of the hosting rights. However, the pushback against the Israeli team’s participation in the tournament is believed to have played a part in FIFA's decision.

However, FIFA said it is committed to assisting the PSSI in the transformation of Indonesian football following the deadly stampede last year that claimed 135 lives.

"Members of the FIFA team will continue to be present in Indonesia in the coming months and will provide the required assistance to the PSSI, under the leadership of President Thohir," FIFA said in the statement.

"A new meeting between the FIFA president and the PSSI president for further discussions will be scheduled shortly,” it added.

Indonesia was named as the host of the U-20 World Cup in 2019 by FIFA after beating out two rivals: Brazil and Peru.

Indonesia had prepared six stadiums for the U-20 World Cup: Gelora Bung Karno (Jakarta), Gelora Bung Tomo (Surabaya), Si Jalak Harupat (Bandung), Manahan Stadium (Solo), I Wayan Dipta (Bali), and Gelora Sriwijaya Jakabaring (Palembang).

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Reporter: Shofi Ayudiana
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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