Cameroonian Striker Salomon Bengondo's Death Highlights Indonesian Football Crisis
Sporting glory drew Cameroonian striker Salomon Bengondo to Indonesia -- "but his story ended in poverty, illness and an untimely death, in a country failing to pay its footballers," according to Sam Reeves of the AFP. Int'l players' union FIFPro said that the withholding of wages by Indonesian clubs has reached "catastrophic proportions." Bengondo died last month at the age of 32, "unable to afford hospital treatment for a mystery illness." His brother and Indonesian football officials said that his former club, Persipro Probolinggo, "still owed him large sums of money." FIFPro VP Brendan Schwab warned the issue of Indonesian clubs failing to pay players had reached "literally catastrophic proportions." Schwab said, "We can't think of a country in the world of football where the problems of the players are more pronounced or more serious than Indonesia." It "is not just foreign players going unpaid." The Indonesian professional footballers’ association (APPI) said that "14 clubs in the country’s two top-tier divisions still owe salaries" from the '12-13 season. Indonesian FA PSSI Chair Djohar Arifin Husin said that "clubs were suffering funding problems as competition for sponsorship was tough" and since '11 professional teams have been banned from getting local government funding, a vital source of revenue in the past. Despite the distractions, Djohar insisted that the PSSI "is trying to resolve the issue of players going unpaid," and said that all clubs "had been given a deadline of January 15 to pay outstanding salaries or face being banned from competitions" (AFP, 12/31).