When Indonesia was announced as hosts of the FIFA U-17 World Cup™ (www.FIFA.com), Erick Thohir, President of the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI), saw it as the perfect opportunity to help grow the sport in Indonesia. The event is the first FIFA tournament held in Indonesia and the first time that the FIFA U-17 World Cup is being held in south-east Asia. Despite having the fourth largest population in the world and football being the number one sport, Indonesia has not been a regular at FIFA tournaments. Having appeared in the third FIFA World Cup™ in 1938 as the Dutch East Indies, it took another 41 years for Indonesia to qualify for a second time, when they made it to the FIFA U-20 World Cup™ in 1979.
While Indonesia was well equipped with good facilities – including the four impressive stadiums – there was still a short turn-around to prepare for the tournament, after Peru had to withdraw from hosting. Mr Thohir, who spent six years as chairman of Inter Milan and was co-owner of DC United, worked in cooperation with FIFA to ensure the tournament would be a success.
With high quality facilities and a greater experience in sports management as a consequence of hosting this event, the nation now has a springboard from which to aspire to bigger and better things.
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