Former Chelsea star Michael Essien has been banned from playing in the Indonesian league until he obtains a work permit.
Essien along with his teammate Carlton Cole was hauled before the government-backed Professional Sports Agency after they were found to have made their debuts on Saturday for Persib Bandung despite not possessing work permits.
After questioning the players and club officials Tuesday, Indonesia’s immigration authorities said the players were banned from playing till they acquired the necessary documentation.
“Today we gave a strong warning to Persib in the form of a letter saying that as long as Persib had not completed the permits, which should be issued by the manpower ministry, we are banning Essien and Cole from playing,” said Maulia Purnamawati, the immigration chief in Bandung, the city where the club is based.
Persib has accepted the verdict and has vowed to get the work permits with the assistance of the Indonesian Football Association.
Joko Driyono, the secretary-general of the country’s football association, said they would help the club in obtaining the documents admitting that they gave the approval for them to be fielded in the first place because the process to get the permits was “not easy nor fast”.
Essien and Cole could have faced much stiffer sanctions as the punishment for flouting Indonesian immigrations laws can be harsh with fines of up to £30,000 and 5 years of imprisonment.
Essien made his name with Chelsea between 2005-2014 before stints with AC Milan, Real Madrid and Panathinaikos.
He became the highest paid player in Indonesian football in March when he signed for Persib Bandung in a deal worth a reported 800,000 euros a year.