Sunday, May 8, 2011

Worawi's control hangs in the balance

AsiaWorawi Makudi
Asian Football Feast's Thai correspondent, Kitinan Sanguansak, gives us his opinion of the FAT election fiasco.

By now, there should have been a new president of the Football Association of Thailand. As things stand, though, the power vacuum still remains after caretaker president Worawi Makudi decided to turn the board over with a controversial decision to postpone Friday’s scheduled election.

It had been expected that a dramatic day appeared in store at the FAT general meeting after the presidential election did not become just the mere formality when there was at least one candidate to challenge the incumbent for the first time in many years.

Nevertheless, Worawi’s announcement of the postponement, which came just before the start of the meeting, was something beyond what even the pundits could envisage. However, it was not quite difficult to find out the cause that led to such controversial decision. Worawi’s grim face on his way out of the meeting room told its own story.

The rumours about “the man lurking in the shadow” would join in the race were true and his mystery was resolved on the day after Virat Chanpanich, the FAT board member, was identified as the person in question.

If there were only Worawi and Pichate Munkong, the former president of Thai Port FC club, for members to vote, it appeared certain that the former would be re-elected for his third consecutive two-year term in the post he has held since 2007.

That would be the case because Pichate was already struggling to find a member who would nominate his name in the voting, not mention to gather the support, despite his attention-capturing policy which included relieving former England and Manchester United captain Bryan Robson of the role of the national team coach.

The emergence of the “third” man, though, changed the whole course of the event. After a private survey by his camp on the support indicated that Virat, who previously had a few stints as the national team manager, held the lead over him, Worawi eventually decided to call off the election in what could only be seen as a desperate attempt to at least buying more time.

Worawi used the problem about the duplication of the members’ authorisation letters as the excuse for not seeking the postponement resolution from the meeting as suggested by the official from the Sports Authority of Thailand, who was present to oversee the election. However, a report that the decision was made by a few executive members not the entire board reflected how desperate Worawi was in clinging on to his post.

Given all the events that unfolded in the meeting, it seemed that there was a glimmer of hope for anyone who wanted to see a change in the Thai FA management after the Thai team’s performances hardly made for pleasant reading during Worawi’s reign. The bitter memory two years ago of the Thai’s bidding to win the SEA Games title for ninth consecutive time only to be dumped out in the group stage for the first time in 36 years still rankled fans.

Worawi, whose creditability suffered a heavy blow last week following the country’s disqualification from the Olympic qualifiers for fielding an ineligible player against Palestine in the preliminary round, may be able to secure his stay of execution for the time being.

However, the manner he wielded his power to force the postponement perhaps would have made it easier for members to decide for whom they would cast their vote next time.


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