|By Bhas Kunju
The body of footballer Diego Mendieta, who passed away early Tuesday morning in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia, was expected to be sent home to Paraguay but repatriation attempts have hit a hitch according to reports.
Mendieta was broke in his final days after not being paid over four months of salary by his last club, Persis Solo, and failed to receive adequate treatment or have his wish of going back to his family in South America fulfilled.
Rudyatmo Hadi, the Mayor of Solo, was quoted as saying that he will personally help in paying the outstanding hospital expenses of the Paraguayan player, but called on the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) to assist in repatriation of the body.
However, the issue has found its way into Indonesia's muddled football problems.
Indonesia has two competing football federations and professional leagues, a violation of Fifa rules and a major source of internal problems in Indonesian football.
Secretary General of PSSI, Halim Mahfudz, initially told Tempo.co: "We've been sending our condolences to the Football Federation of Paraguay. We will also help repatriate the remains to Paraguay."
Halim had also stated that debts owed to and incurred by Mendieta will not be handled by the PSSI as the 32-year-old had last been playing in the non-sanctioned Indonesian Premier League second-tier.
FIFPro, the worldwide representative organization for professional football players, has learnt from the Indonesian players union APPI that there are considerable problems in the repatriation process given the large costs involved.
Frederique Winia, secretary general of FIFPro Division Asia called the incident a 'disgrace for the whole of professional football in Indonesia' and promised to step in should the matter not be resolved.
He added: "I know countless stories of players who are intentionally not paid by their club and have to wait for months for their salary. But I have never before heard a story where a seriously ill player has been left completely to his fate by a club."
"I assume that both the club and the national football association of Indonesia realise that they have seriously failed and that they have much to explain, particularly to the family and relatives of Diego Mendieta."
"The least the club can do is to pay the arrears in salary to his family; his wife and three children."
According to Tempo.co, Persis supremo Totok Supriyanto has promised to have the outstanding payments owed to Mendieta paid to his surviving family members.Guntur Hernawan, Chief of the Internal Medicine division at Dr Muwardi Solo Hospital where Mendieta last stayed, stated: "He always complained that he was alone. He said he wanted to go home because all his relatives were in Paraguay."
Mendieta left behind a wife and three children, and wished to see his mother in Argentina before his death.
FIFPro announced in a statement on their website that they will bring the matter to Fifa.
The statement also read: "FIFPro demands that the Indonesian football association bring an end to the mismanagement at many clubs, for in Indonesia there are countless players who wait for months in vain for what they are contractually promised: their salary. It is a disgrace that clubs should go unpunished when they continue to ignore the most important condition for professional football: paying the players."