JAKARTA – The Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Portugal Rudy Alfonso stated that Indonesia has a lot to learn from the Portuguese football industry. Because they can improve their football at international level by creating many players who are active worldwide, even though the population is quite minimal.

“Imagine, the Portuguese population is only about 10 million, but football can be ranked 5th in the world. And almost all the top clubs in Europe must have Portuguese players. So we have a lot to learn from football in Portugal indeed,” Rudy Alfonso told host Eddy Wijaya in the EdShareOn podcast that aired on Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

An example of the progress of the Portuguese football industry, Rudy said, is the existence of Sport Lisboa e Benfica and Sporting Clube de Portugal. The two clubs were born in one city, namely Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, which has only about one million inhabitants.

According to Rudy, the crowd of the two clubs is always full in the stadium when they compete. They are also capable of scoring the best footballers in the world. One of them is Cristiano Ronaldo, who played for Sporting at the age of 12. Well, why do we have almost 12 million people in one city, can’t we make the football industry as great as they are? Even though our public interest in football is as extraordinary as usual,” said Rudy, who is also a Golkar politician.

As Indonesian ambassador to Portugal, Rudy admitted that he tried hard to bring football closer to the country with football in Portugal. Rudy met Fernando Gomes as president of the Portuguese Football Federation. According to Rudy, Gomes is willing to facilitate great coaches for clubs in Indonesia at a lower cost.

“For example, PSM Makassar won Liga 1 in Indonesia last year (2022/2023) and the coach is Bernardo Tavares from Portugal. There are many great coaches that we can sign with a lower value than there.”

Rudy admitted that he had met PSSI to discuss this. However, Rudy feels that Indonesian football stakeholders are less interested in cooperation with Portuguese football. “It seems that our orientation (of football stakeholders) has not yet gone to Portugal, but rather to Germany and Italy. Portugal is actually much easier, the possibilities are greater and the person is more open to cooperation.”

Indonesian Ambassador to Portugal Rudy Alfonso stated that the number of Indonesian citizens in Portugal is more than 900 people. About 600 of them work as sailors or fishermen on Portuguese fishing vessels. “So after the pandemic, the number of Indonesian sailors coming to Portugal continues to increase. When I came in 2021 alone, there were 200 Indonesians. Now there are 600 people, and that may be because there are newcomers every week,” Rudy said.

According to Rudy, the opportunities for Indonesian sailors are great because the profession of fisherman is not popular among Portuguese citizens. Many ships are forced to stay on the quay for long periods of time because they do not sail. On the other hand, Rudy continued, the consumption of Portuguese fish is very high, so there is an urgent need for workers from the fishing sector.

They also welcome Indonesian sailors because of their exceptional expertise in fishing. Therefore, there is no requirement for Indonesian citizens to speak Portuguese or English to work there. Just come and work,” he said.

As for the safety of work and wages, Rudy continued, the Portuguese government and local entrepreneurs really care. Rudy admitted that he had spoken to the Portuguese Ministry of Maritime Affairs about the safety of work of Indonesian seafarers. For them, work safety is number one,’ said the figure from Mamasa, West Sulawesi.

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