Michael Essien and Carlton Cole involved in work permits row in Indonesia

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Michael Essien spoke of his desire to be a trailblazer when he completed his move to Indonesian side Persib Bandung in March.

"I hope I am the prelude to other world players moving to Indonesia,” Essien told the club’s website, via Sky Sports.

"Hopefully this is a good beginning for Indonesian football and also for Persib. Thank you for bringing me here. I'm excited and want to give my best."

The former Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder wanted to see more familiar names move to the South-East Asia country, and that’s what he got. Weeks after Essien’s move, Carlton Cole followed him to Persib.

“It's incredible,” Cole, formerly of Chelsea, West Ham United and Celtic, said, per Sky Sports. “The jersey reminds me of when joining Chelsea at the beginning of my football career.”

Essien and Cole presumably viewed their moves to Indonesia as not simply a fresh start, but as an adventure, too.

But one month in and things have hit a snag.

Row over work permits

According to Sky News, both players are being investigated in Indonesia after Persib admitted they hadn’t obtained work permits required to allow them to play.

Essien and Cole face questioning by immigration authorities after the Professional Sports Agency, backed by the Indonesian government, found that neither had the necessary documents.

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Work permits haven't been processed

Persib claim to have began processing the paperwork days before Essien and Cole made their Liga 1 debuts at the weekend, but they weren’t ready in time.

Instead, the football association and league organiser allowed the former Chelsea men to play.

Immigration authorities spoke to the club’s management on Monday, with a spokesman saying: “They (the players) are professionals so they must hold a permit to perform activities in Indonesia."

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Persib’s manager isn’t happy

But Persib’s manager isn’t happy. He accused the agency, which monitors foreign players in Indonesia, of going too far.

"That they are here is a joy for us, they want to raise up Indonesia's name in the world,” Umuh Muchtar said.

"Everybody knows that Essien is a world-class player, not an illegal immigrant."

Indonesia’s football authorities are hoping to launch a new league after serving a FIFA suspension. You can see why the country has had trouble in the past.

Can football in Indonesia continue to grow? Let us know in the comments section below!

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