Indonesia's passionate football and fan culture: an opportunity of resurrection for the giant of South East Asia?

Indonesia is returning to world and regional competition following a controversial decision of the world body FIFA. The nation's football association, PSSI, had been suspended due to intervention by an Indonesian Government finally furious at the condition of the domestic game, including a Super League that failed to uphold its own regulations.

Will the resumption of international and formal domestic tournaments mark a new era?

Unfortunately, since Geoffrey Gold's comprehensive 2007 report, The business of Indonesian football and the hopes of players and fans,  the game's administration has lurched from one crisis to another and it is not clear that association, league and club practices have substantially improved since Government intervention.

Despite the PSSI's continuing lack of international success, Talking Indonesa reports, football remains the most popular spectator sport in Indonesia:

Indonesian football is known for its strong and passionate fan culture. 

Rivalries are so fierce that violent clashes among supporters are not uncommon. In one of the most recent incidents, on 15 May, a teenage supporter of the Jakarta-based Persija club died in police custody (link is external) after being arrested following a confrontation with supporters from Persela Lamongan

What are the main challenges for the development of Indonesian football? What does fan culture in Indonesia look like: who supports football and in what ways? What can be done to make the game better for players and spectators alike, and what role should be played by football federations outside of Indonesia? 

Dr Ken Setiawan, a McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Melbourne's Asia Institute, discusses these issues and more with Dr Andy Fuller, whose research interests centre on the intersection of sporting and urban cultures. He is the founder and editor of Reading Sideways (link is external), a multi-authored blog on the cultures, infrastructures and practices of sports.

Talking Indonesia is a fortnightly podcast presenting extended interviews with experts on Indonesian politics, foreign policy, language, culture and more. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via iTunes (link is external) or listen to the entire Talking Indonesia podcast via Stitcher (link is external).

See also: FIFA’s suspension of Indonesia shines spotlight on years of mismanagement (22 June 2015)