Antara, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Saturday met with the Indonesian U-20 squad whose hope to play on the world stage was shattered after the country's dream to host the U-20 FIFA World Cup ended in a fiasco.
The president offered consolation in this difficult period to those young players who have spent more than a year in the training camp and traveled to many places for friendly matches to test their skills.
"I asked the players if there are things that I can do for them next," Jokowi said in a press conference after the meeting at Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.
Some players want to study at the university, others want to join the police and the military or apply to become civil servants, he added.
The president said that his key message for them is to keep the spirit because they still have many opportunities and a splendid future ahead.
Those players also have a chance to join the national team and compete in the SEA Games, the Asian Games, the ASEAN Football Federation Championship, or the Olympics.
"To keep them from plunging further into disappointment and sadness, I told them that we are continuously developing a team down from [the young players] so that we can have a fully prepared national team," Jokowi said.
FIFA decided to cancel the Indonesian edition of the U-20 World Cup after local politicians and a number of organizations voiced opposition to Israel's participation in the tournament.
The cancellation means that the national team is stripped of the privilege of automatic qualification as the host nation.
Indonesia is now taking damage limitation measures to prevent global isolation of the country's football or harsher FIFA sanctions.