The struggle for power in Thai soccer showed no signs of abating yesterday with 108 clubs threatening to hold their own election unless top ranking official Worawi Makudi brings forward the rescheduled vote.
Worawi’s term as Thai Football Association (FAT) chief ended on June 16, but the FIFA executive committee member canceled elections scheduled for that day after he failed to push through controversial FIFA-backed reforms.
Worawi said elections would instead be held on Sept. 23 after further discussions on the reforms on Aug. 8, but the clubs said they had a big enough majority to call a extraordinary congress and have the election brought forward to July 23.
“The figure we got is more than half of the FAT’s 179 members. It shows that the majority do not approve of the management under the current regime,” Annop Singtothong, vice president of Thai Premier League club Chon Buri, told the Nation yesterday.
“According to the FAT’s current rules, the association must conduct the poll within 21 days, or by July 23, of receiving a letter from us. Failing to do so would reflect its ill intentions, which would force us to file a suit against it with the administrative court,” Annop said.
Thai Sports Law states that elections must be held within 30 days of the end of the incumbent’s mandate.
Lawyer Peemdej Amornsukhon said that the 108 members who had signed the petition that was handed to the FAT offices on Tuesday would invoke that regulation.
“If the FAT fails to organize the election by July 23, then we will formally inform the Sports Authority of Thailand that we will hold the election by ourselves,” Peemdej told the Bangkok Post newspaper.
“We expect that the election would take place around Aug. 3 to Aug. 5,” Peemdej added.
FIFA had already threatened Thailand with a ban prior to the latest twist in a shambolic period that comes as the national team prepares to host high-profile friendlies against Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.
The controversial Worawi, who has successfully defended himself against accusations of wrongdoing and corruption in the past, had hoped to push through reforms that included dropping the number of eligible voters by more than half.
However, lowly club Pattaya managed to gain a court injunction blocking discussion of the reforms, leading to Worawi canceling the election and FIFA pressuring the fourth-tier side to stay out of governance or risk the country being suspended.
Worawi argued the reforms were simply following FIFA protocol. However, his rivals queried why he was only now making an effort to push them through so close to the election in which he is standing against soccer fan Pinit Ngarmpring and former national team manager Virach Charnpanich.
Pattaya eventually dropped the order after Worawi’s term ended, but the 61-year-old, who lost out to Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa in the Asian Football Confederation presidential elections in May, remains adamant he is still in control.