"He who does not have the courage to speak up for his rights cannot earn the respect of others." - Rene G Torres.
1. How are you doing?
# Alhamdulillah, I am fine.
2. In December 2012, you were crowned as one of the 10 best players in Asian football in 2012. How big was this honour?
# To be honest, it never crossed my mind to be at the top 10 list best Asian players. Referring to the scoring aspect, actually, the appreciation was given over to what I do off the field, which is fighting on behalf of the rights of players. If what I am doing was positively appreciated by the foreign media, I am very grateful for that.
3. But currently, you don’t have a club and you cannot play football. Can you explain what happened?
# Yes, I decided to have a rest. Currently there are about 60% professional footballers in Indonesia who suffer from the late-payment salary, even reached the point of illness and death. When the footballers, as the most important asset in football, has been treated unjustly, then it cannot be tolerated anymore. I chose to stop because I do not feel comfortable with the current situation.
4. You played for twelve years at Persija. Did you expect this to happen?
# 12 years of my career in Persija was an extraordinary and very memorable journey, this team is more like a family to me. But after the new president come in and takes over the team, the team is like losing their identity. Persija Jakarta is like walking in the wrong direction. Team conditions are not conducive and as a result, they are currently placed at bottom of the table.
5. Can you accept this situation?
# Honestly, this like a dilemma to me. On one side, it’s hard for me to have a conflict with Persija Jakarta, the team that I really love. But on the other hand I have a responsibility to fight for the rights of the players. In the end, "Love must lead the way to a responsibility."
6. You are probably the most prominent member of APPI. Why did you join the union?
# Footballer is the most essential asset in football industry. In several countries, including Indonesia, many footballers are arbitrarily treated by the club or federation. Therefore that is the reason we need the union, to unite their voices and fight for their rights as a footballer. Struggle would be much easier if all footballers united in an association.
7. What is your role within APPI?
# I am the vice president in APPI. Due to the fact that I live in Jakarta, so I do involve in almost all activities at APPI. The president of APPI - Ponaryo Astaman, domiciles in Palembang (South Sumatera) and quite busy with his club’s fixtures. And at the moment, I’m not having any contract with any other club, so I have more time to work with APPI.
8. Players have not been paid for several months. I guess you’re in close contact with some of the players in difficult situation. Can you describe the most awkward situation of a player you know?
# True. About 60% of all professional footballers here are encountering the late-payment salary. As internationally known, currently there are dualism crisis in Indonesian football that occurs not only in Federation and National team but also with the club. Strangely, in the middle of this situation, footballers are being used as the bargaining power in such disputes. Yet, the basic needs of the footballers are not fulfilled by the club. Hence, this is the most awkward and unfair situations for the footballers.
9. Recently, there was the death of Diego Mendieta and the worrisome situation of Moukwelle. Do you know about any other players in such situations? Do you fear for players’ health?
# The case which involving Mendieta and Moukwelle are the evidence that there are no respect between football stakeholders in Indonesia. All Indonesia football stakeholders should be ashamed in regard such cases, unfortunately, the Indonesia football stakeholders consider Mendieta and Moukwelle cases as the ordinary cases that happened in Indonesian football.
10. I understood that you are one of the few players who dare to speak out publicly. Why do you speak out? Why are so many other players silent?
# This is a form of responsibility. Moral responsibility for the sport that has brought me to where I am now. Also my moral responsibility to protect the future generation of footballers. If we do not start now, then when will we? Maybe we are not able to change the fate of the current generation, but at least we were able to make a solid foundation for the future generation. I do not want to talk about any other players, they certainly have their own considerations.
11. Do you encourage other players to speak out in public?
# Indeed, lots of players talked and share their confusion to me and I always try to support and encourage them. Sooner or later I believe that the footballers will come to speak up. It’s just a matter of time.
12. How difficult is it for you to speak out?
# To be honest, its difficult enough. Because if a player “speaks up”, it means that he is wrongly against the old current system. However, once again, if not now, then when? I believe if there is one footballer that starts speaks up, there will be another footballer who is willing to speak.
13. Is there a lot of solidarity between the players in Indonesia?
# Yes there is, although to be honest, It is not so strong. There are gaps that could be exploited by management or the owner of the club to intimidate and divide the players.
14. Some people might say: Bambang has earned a lot of money as a professional footballer. Why does he care about other players? Why does he not quit football and enjoy a life of luxury?
# As I mentioned above, this is not about the money, comfort or pride. This is about idealism and moral responsibility. Moral responsibility for football and future generations. The future of Indonesian football players and the industry should be better than what is happening now.
15. How do you see the future of Indonesian professional football?
# Currently Indonesian football is dying, dualism crisis occurs in all level of the organization. Indeed, we will not be always in a good situation, but do not ever give up hope for a better future. All depends on how the way we think. Is the sense of same nation and homeland completely faded? All returned to us.
16. What needs to change?
# What needs to be change is the way we think about football. Football should purely be a sport, without any interest ridden, including politics.
17. (According to Wikipedia) You have played 85 times for the national team of Indonesia? What does it mean for you to play for the national team?
# Every game with Indonesia national team is a proud honor and responsibility. Because to play with the national team is the highest peak of the footballers pyramid.
18. In May and July, some famous European clubs are going to play matches in Indonesia. What would you like to tell against the players of these European clubs? What do you want those players to know about the situation in Indonesia?
# Honestly, I really don’t know what to say. Because if all the footballers in Indonesia can unite, we can resolve this problem. Maybe I just want to ask for a moral support from top European club’s players in regard with the crisis in Indonesian football, particularly regarding the issue which involving the footballers rights, and for the players to be patient in facing such situation.
19. Next week, FIFA Executive Committee will hold a meeting? What do you want to tell the FIFA Executive Committee?
# The situation in Indonesia so far has been so severe, so it takes a firmness of FIFA to resolve this prolonged conflict. I hope FIFA oversee this process closely and take action against those who try to play outside the lines. All these issues should be resolved immediately; this is for the future of football for Indonesia.
"Dont be afraid to stand up for yourself, you should speak up even if you dont get the answer you were looking for its the fact that you said something that matters." - Unknown quotes