Indonesia Here Arsenal Come but why? – Supporting Arsenal from Indonesia and The Times That are Changing

Jakarta City Stadium the 10th Largest in the world
Jakarta City Stadium the 10th Largest in the world

It has often been claimed in recent years claimed that Arsenal’s business and commercial deals were far inferior to other teams in the Premier League and that the club was losing Millions each year due to signing long term contracts.  Well, that perceived loss in value has clearly been recouped by their recent Premier League Sponsorship deal with Fly Emirates that will see the club remain the team’s shirt sponsor until the end of the 2018/2019 season.

The deal, made official back in November when it was announced that the current deal with Fly Emirates that was at the time worth £5.5 Million per year would be extended through the 2018/2019 and in addition, the deal for the naming rights to Emirates Stadium in north London was also extended until 2028.

Under the terms of the new deal, Arsenal will receive a significant raise in sponsorship money with the new deal with £150M, or about £30M annually. The new sponsorship deal with Emirates will help the club continue to expand their brand globally, and that includes the club returning to Asia for a third straight year. Gazidis also confirmed in November that the club would visit Indonesia and would play a match in Jakata. The trip will be the first for Arsenal since 1983 – but more of that later.

Of the trip, Gazidis said that “We know that Arsenal enjoy fantastic support in Indonesia and we are all looking forward to bringing the Club closer to these loyal fans and learning more about the country’s rich heritage and culture.”


This will be the third year in a row the team has visited Asia.  In 2011, the team played matches in Hangzhou, China and then in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.  They followed that up in 2013 by played matches in Beijing and Hong Kong.  They also returned to Kuala Lampur to play another match.

So now seems a perfect time to dip back into the ‘Global Gooner Passion’ series to give you all a feel for why Indonesia. For that I delighted to welcome the most passionate Indonesian Gooner I know from my twitter TL @Indocannon who I have been asking to write for me since the above announcement in November. It was worth the wait and superb given that he is blogging in a foreign language…….


Hundreds of people gather around. The smiles are on their faces. They walk down the dusty road, wearing the Arsenal t-shirts from varied seasons. You could see boys and girls wearing Bergkamp’s, Pires’, Henry’s, Arshavin’s to Gervinho’s. They surrounding the city. Taking picture alongside buildings or statues they consider unique. In doing so, the Arsenal chants and songs are on the air. Singing them loudly, hand-in-hand in jolly and jubilant  perfection.


Indonesian Gooners gathering
Indonesian Gooner Congregation

They are not away-Gooners supporting Arsenal in Italy or some obscured provincial town in Europe. In fact, the scene happened in Indonesia. The country in South-East Asia that differs too much to explain in one article. That was Arsenal Indonesia Supporters annual event where they occasionally appoint one region to held the Gooners ‘congregation’. There are 51 official branches/chapters located in country that comprises of more than 17.000 islands. Even though, the majority of its 230 millions people live in Sumatra, Jawa (Java), Sulawesi, Kalimantan (Borneo) and Papua.

It was on August 17th 1945 we gained our independence from the ruling invader Netherland. It took more than three hundred years for our founding fathers to declare it. Several nations had been invading its rich resources from Spanish to Portugueses, Netherlanders, the Japanese and even the wave rulers that were the Britishers. Million of martyrs shed their blood on our land where people lives in poor, anguish and misery.

However, to be not to drift too far off topic that is Arsenal, Indonesia is the first among Asian countries to participate in World Cup. It was in France 1938, Indonesia (“Dutch East Indies” back then) taking part in the third World Cup lead by their brave captain a HBS Soerabaja (new/modern pronunciation: Surabaya) player Ahmad Nawir. Amazingly, it was his club that is one of three cities Arsenal Football Club visited Indonesia for the first time in 1983. The other two was Medan and capital Jakarta. The game against league champion NIAC Mitra was held at 2 in the afternoon and consequently, an Arsenal team that included the likes of Pat Jennings, current Reading manager Brian McDermott, Alan Sunderland and Irish blood-Arsenal heart David O’leary was defeated 2-0. Mind you fellows, 2pm in Indonesia can be pretty hot and exhausting for those from the UK or Europe.


At that time, Indonesian people didn’t have what they had been enjoying in the last 20 years: free-to-air football match on terresterial TVs. Arsenal wasn’t as ‘big’ as they are now. Liverpool dominating the league and in Europe. I remember clearly the last time we played Anfield and Brendan Rodgers’s side was two nil down, my father – arriving home asking me a question, “how could Liverpool lose?” First, my father doesn’t follow any particular club. He enjoys footbal especially international matches, but that’s it. Second, for Indonesian babyboomers, it’s only Liverpool and AC Milan. European football was alien until that day in early 90’s where one of big TV station broadcasted Seria-A.


Having my boyish days living in 90’s Indonesia, I was lucky enough be among the first generation to be entertained by cultural products from abroad. It was a heyday of MTV. Kids don’t sing evergreen or Beatles or Stones anymore. I even walk down the road immitatingan arrogant Liam Gallagher. Exuberantly, it was a moment when we can absorb all of it and express with our own way. I’m sure that European football cannot be separated with western music that has built Indonesian teenagers’ mentality through their lives. Until now, you can find bands that play Stone Roses, Oasis, Weezer, Nirvana, Sex Pistols and others in very similar way. Sad but fact. A while ago I even overhearded Twitter convo between my friends, speaking that if you’re into Oasis you have to support Manchester City. That’s an example of how important imported cultures takes part in our lives. Shallowness and fanatism at its best.


You can’t choose which club you support

To be honest, I encounterd my first football experience by watching Eric Cantona. At that time there were only five TV stations with government TV (TVRI) doing censorship all over the places. There was particular time in the evening when they obligated other stations to broadcast similar and doctored news reports. The rulers would silence every media – paper or electronic – that published any undesirable truths. College students and politic activist had been  Suharto (our president that time) dictatorship’s effect on many basis. The corruption, public lies, family involvements were finally discovered despite the super economic growth they’d been talking in almost 30 years. Finally in 1998, after the occurance of several events; chaotic months (people campaigning in the streets and looting in shopping malls, government kidnapping activists and the shooting of activists while  marching demanding changes there was political change.. A very hard time for the republic that has built in less than hundred years.


I was only kid. That time I shared love towards football with my little brother and school-mates. There was no pressure to support one club. I crystal clearly still remember how I adored Alan Shearer – coming from the fact that it was Newcastle away 1995/97’s my first football shirt ever. I even crying to my father how I want Newcastle team Panini card set. On the other hand, Serie A was more popular than Premier League that day. I know football from the hype of Eric Cantona. Kids in school – myself included – were entertained by his flamboyant moves on the pitch. We can’t be blamed, every TV broadcasted Man. United highlight games every night.


Then my Arsenal time arrived. It was Arsene’s second season where they crowned the double for the second time. I couldn’t recall a specific match, but it was Ray Parlour’s style of play that attracted my heart to love Arsenal. His golden curly hair waving on TV, never to tired to run and hunt down the opponents and tackle them. Very English, while most of my friends prefer Italian talents (Sampdoria’s Roberto Mancini and Juan Sebastion Veron kind of player). It was at the beginning of the end of Suharto’s dictatorship time. Financial crisis arrives and we couldn’t survive. Furthermore college students’ movement alongside other politicians could dismantle Suharto off the throne.

Football fanatism growing upwards since. I’ve been a reader of this ‘1NilDown2OneUp’ blog since I set up my own blog and I think there is no difference between us Indonesian with fellow South African Gooners in the way supporting Arsenal. As I described before, supporting wise, Man. United has been the greatest club that achieved huge following as they were the champions of England just before its broadcasting arrived here freely. Followed by Liverpool in the second for their cult reputation in the 70’s to 80’s.

The internet has changed the way people think and interact. Last year, 101GreatGoals website reported there was 80 West Ham Indonesian fans ringing BBC and sing “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”. We’re familiar with football hooliganism for our local clubs’ fierce rivalry, but to emulate and apply it in a way supporting foreign clubs is inappropriate. Some of  foreigners even tag Asian who supports their home club as ‘plastics’. As occured in London, we too are divided into two. It happens just recently but is growing further and bigger. Especially in the internet.

I’ve heard someone saying: “You can’t choose football club. Football club choose you”. Be it because of Ian Wright or Bergy or Pires, the love towards football club should be unconditional. Especially for Indonesian Gooners while we don’t have to spent much dough to watch Arsenal matches live on TV.

Arsenal Football Club have put Indonesia as one of countries they will visit on Summer 2013 tour. It is a very outstanding moment for us to celebrate what they have achieved this far. We have to welcome and appreciate Arsenal’s effort to connect and get closer to their global Gooners. There are another countries that share similar huge Arsenal fanbases such as America and Brazil yet to have such a great blessing. Then I remember one day when I first had a conversation with Dave and PIMP (@PoznanInMyPants). It was about music (the reunited Deacon Blue and Suede in particular), knowing them living in an exact era and place with the bands that saved my life. He also there in every Arsenal glorious moments (hence this blog title). For us, far-away supporters, to sing Arsenal chants on pub is more than enough. I hope Arsenal can manage to achieve something this season. Let all the weeping and moaning vanishes. As Dylan sings, “Come writers and critics who propesize with your pen. And keeps your eyes wide the chance won’t come again. And don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin. And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’. For the loser now will be later to win, for the times they are a changin’”.

Thank you very much for reading it and especially Dave Seager for the opportunity. I hope I don’t bore your blog reader. COYG!

You are most welcome my friend . Please ensure to catch up with @Indocannon on twitter. For the readers share the Indonesian Passion in this clip:

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  1. nice post.. i think under arsene with playing beautiful attacking style, nice to watch made a lot of people in the world love this club.. DUKUNG GUNNER NEPI KAPAEH..!!!

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