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Selling crabs and Eric Djemba-Djemba during Indonesia's FIFA ban

The only silver lining for Indonesia since the FIFA ban began a month ago was the winner by Evan Dimas that knocked hosts Singapore out of the SEA Games. Photo credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee/Action Images via Reuters

What to do when football grinds to a halt in Indonesia? With the all-encompassing FIFA ban and suspension of the Indonesia Super League (ISL), one professional player has taken up selling crabs from a food cart to earn a living, while another has set up a catering business.

If you were expecting a hive of activity one month into the ban, you would be sadly mistaken. Officials continue to potter along in their own way, oblivious to the potential harm being visited upon players, coaches and fans.

The suspension was handed down because of what the game's world governing body saw as interference by the government. Imam Nahrawi, the minister of youth and sports, had moved to take over the activities of the football association -- known as PSSI -- in a move seen as a breach of FIFA statutes.

Indonesia cannot have teams compete in the ongoing AFC World Cup qualifiers, and the nation has been forced to withdraw from a number of other age group competitions, including some it had been slated to host.

With FIFA demanding PSSI reclaim the running of football, little has been done on the ground to reconcile the two parties. Nahrawi has yet to meet with La Nyalla Mattalitti, the head of the PSSI, which is surely a prerequisite to ending the dispute. However, he did recently discuss the situation with his predecessor, Djohar Arifin Husin, while a body set up by the minister is going ahead with proposals to organise a competition after the fasting month of Ramadan.

The Indonesian sports minister has yet to meet with La Nyalla Mattalitti, above, the head of the Indonesian football association.

In reality, little has changed. Indonesia bowed out of the biennial Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore in mid-June, after losing heavily against eventual champions Thailand in the semifinals.

Besides a surprise 1-0 victory that knocked host nation Singapore out, Indonesia's U23 side performed poorly. It was a tournament they were allowed to play in because it began before the FIFA ban was in place.

Many professional clubs have disbanded their teams, leaving players to fend for themselves. Local news reports have highlighted examples of the creative ways out-of-work footballers are supporting their families.

There has been some football, but again, the sport is making headlines for the wrong reasons. The grandly named Central Java Police Region Cup is on at the moment, and one game was held up for 20 minutes as some players assaulted the referee, claiming he was favouring the other side.

A second tournament, the Java Sunrise Cup featuring Arema, Bali United, Persewangi Banuywangi and Indonesia U23, is due to kickoff this weekend. It is rumoured to feature ex-Manchester United midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba -- even a former fringe Red Devil remains a big selling point in Southeast Asia -- but has yet to receive a certificate from security officials.

Former Manchester United midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba is rumoured to feature in the Java Sunrise Cup.

Surprisingly few locally based players have moved abroad in search of regular matches. Indonesian international Greg Nwokolo has signed for Thai Premier League side BEC Tero, but his departure has hardly sparked an exodus.

Despite the lack of competitive domestic football, most players seem content to sit around and wait for something to happen, rather than taking control of their careers.

Other players have managed to get matches on a local and informal basis. Intervillage games known as tarkam are springing up. Recently, one such game went viral when a photograph online showed Cameroonian Emile Mbamba shaking hands with a fan.

In 2004, Mbamba was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ajax, Bayern Munich and Juventus in the UEFA Champions League with his Israeli club, Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Persebaya Surabaya secretary Rahmad Sumanjaya said his club have not tried to stop players from playing tarkam, but he worries about injuries.

"In these circumstances, we have very little influence over the players," he said.

The current circumstances are unlikely to go away any time soon. For now, the position of each side seems deeply entrenched, and a solution seems unlikely.

Not even the greatest optimist is expecting the situation in Indonesian football to improve in the near future.

Antony Sutton is a regular contributor to the Jakarta Globe as well as Indonesian language websites. Follow him on Twitter @JakartaCasual

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