Persib Bandung duo, Michael Essien and Carlton Cole, are facing potential jail term in Indonesia following the club’s failure to provide them work permits.
Essien and Cole completed a transfer move to the Indonesia outfit last month and made their respective debuts last Saturday in a 0-0 draw against Arema FC.
But, the players and their club may soon be involved in a legal tussle after the government-backed Professional Sports Agency found out that the players did not have the required work permits to play in the country.
The club admitted Monday that the players did not have the work permits and they had sought to acquire the documents a few days before their first match.
Persib claims the permits were not ready on time, but the football association and league organizer gave them permission to play.
Persib Manager Umuh Muchtar accused the sports agency of witch-hunting the foreign players.
“That they are here is a joy for us, they want to raise up Indonesia’s name in the world,” he said.
He added: “Everybody knows that Essien is a world-class player, not an illegal immigrant.”
Immigration authorities have summoned the club management but it is not clear when the questioning would take place.
An immigration official Agustianur (who, like many Indonesians, goes by one name) explained that, “They are professionals so they must hold a (work) permit to perform activities in Indonesia.”