On Tuesday, Indonesian president Joko Widodo said that he was sending his country's soccer association chief to talk with FIFA about its hosting of the Under-20 Men's World Cup after the draw was nixed following protests over Israel's participation.
The two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations, and support for the Palestinian cause in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation runs high, fueling local opposition to hosting the Israeli team.
Widodo said he had dispatched Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) head and minister for state-owned enterprises Erick Thohir to the FIFA headquarters in Switzerland as uncertainty swirls over the competition's location. He did not specify when Thohir -- a former chairman of Inter Milan -- would fly or which FIFA officials he would meet.
"I sent PSSI chief Erick Thohir to meet with FIFA team to look for the best solution," Widodo said in a livestreamed speech.
Groups for the 24-nation tournament beginning in May were scheduled to be chosen on Friday in Bali, but FIFA cancelled the event without reason or setting a new date. Indonesian officials said a rejection from Bali's governor to hosting Israel on the Hindu-majority island and calls for it to be thrown out of the cup because of its policies towards the Palestinians was likely the reason for the draw's cancellation. Around a hundred conservative Muslim demonstrators also marched in the capital Jakarta this month to protest Israel's involvement.
FIFA is yet to comment on the tournament and where it will be held after the draw was nixed. The Indonesian president said sport and politics should not clash after the calls for Israel to be removed from the tournament.
"I guarantee the participation of Israel has nothing to do with the consistency of our foreign policy to Palestine. Because our support to Palestine is always strong and firm. So don't mix sports with politics," he said in the video.
Widodo's intervention came as fears grew that Indonesia could face sanctions and isolation on the global soccer stage if it could not guarantee Israel's participation. The U-20 tournament would be the first major soccer competition hosted by the Southeast Asian archipelago nation. The country would also be holding the tournament under the cloud of one of the worst stadium disasters in the sport's history after 135 people died in an East Java stadium stampede in October.
© Agence France-Presse