Worawi: Money politics rules in Thai FA

Former FA of Thailand (FAT) president Datuk Worawi Makudi claims the national body is riddled with mismanagement and money politics ahead of its Feb 12 elections.

But his presence in Kuala Lumpur casts doubt over the legitimacy of his candidacy for the top job as it has been revealed that he did not meet two of the 13 criteria set by FAT.

He claims two regulations – that a candidate must be free from any legal action against FAT and free from any Fifa suspension or ban – was only introduced during the submission of candidacy for this year’s elections.

According to Worawi, FAT had initiated legal action against him last year regarding a broadcasting deal to which he was a witness in an earlier case which FAT lost.

The former Fifa executive committee member was suspended from all football-related activities in October 2015 for five years following his conviction of forgery in a Thai court and for failing to cooperate with an investigation by the world body.

His ban, however, was cut by 18 months in 2018 after he took his case to Fifa’s appeals committee.

He was cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year of an ethics breach related to forgery and falsification.

Worawi spent about 30 minutes with Asian Football Confederation (AFC) deputy legal director Andrew Mercer in Bukit Jalil prior to addressing members of the media at a hotel in Petaling Jaya.

He said the meeting was sufficient for him to present his case and he will be back in Kuala Lumpur soon.

“The regulations are unfair. They (FAT) put these regulations to prevent me from contesting,” said Worawi, who is the president of Thaiunion Samutsakhon FC – a second-tier club in the Thai league.

“I visited AFC to furnish information regarding mismanagement, corrupt practices and money politics in FAT.”

Worawi alleged FAT was embroiled in a broadcasting battle which saw the association fork out 50 million Baht following a decision by a Thai court.

He added FAT had then awarded the rights to another company which has since incurred huge losses to the national body.

“FAT announced the election date last year. Since then, cheques (amounting to 500,000 Baht each) have been distributed to clubs,” claimed Worawi.

Worawi showed Twentytwo13 a copy of a cheque dated yesterday (16.01.2563). Thailand uses a version of a solar calendar which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar.

“Fifa provides funds to football associations worldwide and allocates money for the employment of a general secretary who has to be working full time with the national FA.

“But FAT has a general secretary who is a member of parliament. He should be fully involved in football but he is now involved in parliamentary work.”

FAT general-secretary is Korrawee Prissananantakul who is a Thai MP.

“I have brought these allegations to the AFC and we seek their help to investigate these matters.”

When asked why he only raised these issues now instead of earlier, Worawi said it was because he believes FAT may block his candidacy. He also spoke about his legacy as FAT president from 2007 to 2015.

He could not contest the following year due to Fifa’s suspension.

“When I was FAT president, my team and I initiated a solid and effective leadership and I can say our football can be a profession of the youth of Thailand.

“Football in Thailand boomed because I created a booming atmosphere … football spread to all provinces and people responded in different ways.

“There are many more people who wanted to be part of football. We made the Thai league successful.”

He then listed the success of the junior and senior national teams including the women’s team qualifying for two World Cups (Canada and France) and having competed in the Futsal World Cup for five consecutive editions.

Going up against current president Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang and Nakhon Sawan MP Pinyo Niroj of the ruling Palang Pracharat Party for the president’s post, Worawi said he was merely responding to calls for him to return to FAT.

“People are pulling teams out from the league due to insufficient subsidy. During my last term with FAT, I signed a 4.2 billion Baht deal with a cable TV. I left this legacy to the new administrators and the result is as what I have briefed you.

“Why do I want to return? I have had success in the past and people want me to do it again.”

He assured of a “big press conference” in Bangkok next week.