Real Madrid Academy in Bali starts in controversy

Spanish Liga premier Real Madrid has signed a 3.5-year license agreement for the establishment of the Real Madrid Academy of Football Excellence in the Indonesian tourism province of Bali. According to the Indonesian Ambassador to Spain, Slamet Santoso Mustafa, the academy, accommodating 200 students aged 9-18 years under Real Madrid coaches, will be very beneficial for Indonesia. "Not only in the development of sport, especially football, but also in other aspects, such as tourism," he told Kompas newspaper correspondent Adi Prinantyo in Madrid.

The agreement with Real Madrid was signed by David Hatchwell, Vice President of the Spanish Excem Grupo and Peter Setiono, President Director of PT Real Indo Castle. Hatchwell told Kompas the first intake of 200 students would be selected by the Real Madrid process. According to Setiono, an Indonesian businessman with strong links to the banking, finance, telecommunications and power sectors, the academy will include two football fields, swimming pool, dressing room, fitness centre, physiotherapy centre, office complex and conference facilties.

Bali associates have confirmed that the Academy will be based at the Canggu Club, a newly completed, state-of-the-art sporting and leisure facility, in North Kuta. “The plan is moving forward. However, we haven’t decided how to run the academy or what it’s going to be like. On July 20, the project manager [Juan Murueta-Goyenawill] come here to discuss the details of the plan,” Canggu Club football coach Wolfgang Pical told the Bali Times.

He said planning had been underway for a year and a half and had gained all the necessary permits and other paperwork in both Spain and Indonesia. “The initial plan is complete. Through Juan, Real Madrid has acquired enough land near Canggu Community School to build two football pitches,” Pical said. “We are still waiting for many things. The reason why they choose Bali, I think, because their owner has a property here.”

However the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) has reporedly questioned the legality of the academy, claiming that the FA had never been involved in the talks. “Neither the central nor provincial office has been officially informed about the establishment of the academy; therefore Nurdin [Halid, PSSI Chairman] had asked me to find it out,” Made Sumer, head of the Bali Football Association, told reporters. He said that as an investor, the Spanish club must involve PSSI as the academy planned to be a training ground for young players. “This matter involves a bilateral relationship. The Spanish consulate should have informed the Bali government about this. If they don’t have a clear purpose, then it’s illegal,” he said.