In the past, Indonesian nationalism was due to the military struggle against the invaders. In the present, nationalism is rising through football. Maybe this sounds strange, but no one can argue that the public enthusiasm increase because of football. Last week, Jakarta crowded with people wearing red shirts with Garuda symbol, our national emblem. There were many people watched the game between Indonesia versus Philippines at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. They wore red white shirts and waving the Indonesian flags. They showed their nationalism and their pride to this country. For me, there are some indications that show the relationship between Indonesian nationalism and football.
First, the game between Indonesia versus Philippines was watched by millions of people from all over Indonesia, including the stadium audience that approximately reached a hundred thousand of people. Many of them were from other parts in Indonesia. They came to Jakarta from remote islands to support national team. For example, the governor of South Sulawesi came to the stadium to watch this game. The people who did not come to the stadium, watched the game in the house or in the bar and café. They watched together with their colleague and supported the national team. They wore red and white shirt as national team. When the Indonesian player scored, they excited and shouted “Indonesia” throughout the game.
Second, the football also became a fever on the internet. Until last night, trending topic on twitter and facebook was all about the winning of national team. Some players like Irfan Bachdim, Christian Gonzalez and Bambang Pamungkas became trending topic or the most discussed topic in the internet. They have popularity as well as a celebrity or a movie star. According to many sources, Indonesia is one of the largest internet user population in the world. The issue form Indonesia will spread rapidly throughout the world. That’s why many famous football players like Rio Ferdinand or Ryan Bable said congratulations to Indonesian winning last week.
Third, the football game unites all of the Indonesian people. Millions of Indonesian people forget the difference. They were bounded by the same feeling, the same motivation, and the same support to this country. For me, this phenomenon is very interesting because Indonesia is a big country with thousands of ethnic groups. Throughout the history of Indonesia, the relationship between one ethnic group to the others is not always harmonious. There were less violence and conflict in the name of ethnic and religious affairs for the several years. However, in the football game, all of the differences were diminished. They agree to forget the difference and support the national team.
Fourth, the national team players are from many regions and represent a multicultural Indonesia. They also come from various clubs who are the participants of the National Football League. Not only the players who come from Java, such as Bambang Pamungkas, Arif Suyono, or Maman Abdurrahman, but there are also players who came from eastern Indonesia such as Hamka Hamzah and Okto Maniai. They represent the multicultural diversity as well as thousands of ethnic group in Indonesia.
As a result, these facts showed us about the relationship between football and our nationalism. These facts are indications that football has strengthened the nationalism of Indonesia. Football has given a pride to this country and the desire to maintain the honor of this country, to defend our national dignity, and make it as the best country in the world.(*)