Saturday, September 06, 2008
  Curb your enthusiasm ....

..... but this is a post about the noble game of football. Folk like Oigal will state that there's only one form of football, Ozzie Rules (AFL), which, thanks to Indovision, can unfortunately be viewed in Jakartass Towers on the Australian Network.

Strangely, last Sunday that channel broadcast a match in the Australian A-League (which is 'real' football rather than a bastard offshoot like AFL), between the Central Coast Mariners from somewhere presumably not inland in the outback and some other side from somewhere else. The match itself was what some commentators would describe as "open", but it reminded me of school playground games which ebb and flow from end to end.

What really intrigued me, however, was CCM's goalkeeper, a now somewhat podgy yet familiar figure. It was Mark Bosnich, the one-time Australia, Manchester United and Chelsea goalkeeper. The last time he'd played professional football before Sunday was for Chelsea away to Everton on November 18 2001 before he tested positive for cocaine, received a nine month ban from football and was sacked by Chelsea. He helped CCM, quite athletically at times, win 4-2.

I only mention this because, to my surprise, I actually enjoyed watching some half way decent football. As I've commented before, we can't watch any football from the self-appointed "best league in the world", England's Premiership (EPL) thanks to monopolistic practices in the local media.

Aora TV, a satellite-based local pay TV service, from PT Karyamegah Adijaya, earned the broadcasting rights for the Premier League from All Asia Multimedia Network and ESPN STAR Sports -- the joint owners of the rights for the Asia market (and owned in turn by the Rupert Murdoch oligarchical conglomerate) -- on Aug. 17. Its service began Aug. 18, two days after the league kicked off.

There is righteous indignation from those viewers who last year subscribed to the then new to Indonesia satellite channel, Astro All Asia Networks. Malaysia's largest cable television had entered into partnership with the local Lippo Group's PT Direct Vision to provide TV "services" to local subscribers, services which were reported to include the EPL rights for two seasons.

However, after one season Astro is severing ties with Lippo because they are owed $245 million. This is apparently due to a row between the oligarchs controlling the two companies - Malaysian Ananda Krishnan and Lippo's James Riady, a Chinese-Indonesian and born-again Christian with a nefarious past.

To my knowledge, Astro is not to be connected to Astra International, the Indonesian flagship conglomerate, now part-owned and controlled by a load of Brits co-opted from Jardine Matheson in Hong Kong. Astra's former President Director and Chief Executive Officer Rini M. Soemarno left to become industry and trade minister, but she has now secured the rights to the EPL through her Aora TV, presumably a subsidiary of DEWA Darma Henwa TBK.

Having thoroughly confused myself - and probably you - with notions of the mass media being playthings for rich folk who really couldn't give a shit for the common folk who have been reduced to addicts panting for their products, let me now turn to the interesting issue of Indonesian football.

Terrestial TV channels do offer various football leagues for viewers. For example, RCTI has broadcast rights for the Champions League and the 2008-2009 Spanish League.

ANtv are focusing only on broadcasting the Indonesian Soccer League as it has paid Rp.100 billion ($10.86 million) for the domestic competition's 10 seasons. I'm not sure if that includes Indonesia's international matches, the most recent of which was with against the friendly nation of Libya.

This resulted in a 3-0 win for Indonesia even though Libya were leading 1-0 at half-time. If you think that is senseless, then so was the assault on the Libyan coach Gamal Adeen Abu-Nowara by an Indonesian official yet to be positively identified and blamed. Indonesia were awarded the match after the Libyans decided to sit tight in their dressing room for the second half.

A day earlier, the Libyan community in Indonesia had celebrated the 39th anniversary of The Great Al-Fateh (September 1969) Revolution, which transformed the United Kingdom of Libya into The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahirya, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Jakarta.

Whilst blame is being apportioned, it's worth noting that the president of Indonesia's football association (PSSI), Nurdin Halid, a Golkar party politician and prominent businessman, is currently serving a two-year prison sentence for embezzling 169 billion rupiah ($18.5 million) from a logistics company he headed in 1999. He continues to hold the post for the time being, even though the Indonesian sports minister has threatened to sue PSSI officials if Halid isn't replaced in line with a directive from the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA).

Don't you just love the beautiful game?

Elsewhere in the region, whilst the Jakarta Post suggests that Thailand could do with help in following Indonesia's path on their road to democracy (shurely shum joke - hic), Thailand has appointed former Manchester City, Sunderland and Leeds manager Peter Reid as their country's new coach on a four year contract.

That rules him out for this week's vacancies at Premiership clubs Newcastle and West Ham whose managers have resigned citing interference from the clubs' respective owners.

I doubt that Kevin Keegan would be interested, but I do wonder if Alan Curbishley, now ex-Hammers guv'nor, on the left being saluted by Charlton's then players and we Addicks as he 'retired' from his labours at the Valley a couple of seasons ago, could be tempted to become Indonesia's national soccer supremo.

Alan is well-respected, a strict task master and is a Mr. Clean, so I for one would support the idea. Whether the corruptors who control the local sports federations would feel comfortable with him at the helm is, of course, a debatable point.

So, it may be best to curb one's enthusiasm for change here.

(Those of you really interested in local, meaning south-east Asia, football match reports and news would do well to log on to the Jakarta Casual blog.)


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