Extension of Fifa ban slams door on Thailand Worawi

Former president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) Worawi Makudi.
PHOTO: Reuters

A DECISION by Fifa to extend the ban on Worawi Makudi from all football-related activities for another 45 days has added a new twist to the race for president of the Football Association of Thailand with the incumbent now ineligible to stand for re-election.

Initially, the world football governing body had imposed a provisional 90-day suspension on Worawi in October pending a full investigation into his alleged breach of the ethics code. However, Fifa's ethics committee judging chamber decided to extend the suspension.

The ban on the 64-year-old has come just days before Worawi, a former member of Fifa's executive committee, was set to stand against two other contenders for what would have been his fifth consecutive term as head of Thai football.

Fifa, meanwhile, appointed a normalisation committee to oversee the re-scheduling of the election. The committee, chaired by Admiral Surawut Maharom, subsequently set February 11 as the new poll date, four days before the Fifa deadline.

Worawi's initial suspension ended on Friday, which would have allowed him to enter the fray for Thai football's top job that he has held since 2007.

However, the extension of his ban, which comes into effect tomorrow, spells an end to his hopes of another term in office, as the application phase for the February 11 vote ends on the same day.

Worawi's camp, though, was not in a mood to give up on the presidential post. They are reportedly looking for an alternative candidate. FAT lawyer Narinphong Jinaphak has refused to rule out the prospect of joining the race.

"It's now certain that Khun Worawi cannot run for the presidency again. So, it's now the duty of the working team to find a replacement. We'll have a meeting tomorrow to decide who would run in Khun Worawi's place," Narinphong said.

"I can't say much now about who would be the replacement. It could be myself or someone else. So, let's wait and see but there'll be a surprise.

"Anyone who replaces Worawi must be suitably qualified and must want to develop Thai football. He also would stay in the post until the end of his four-year mandate.

"For sure, there would be no resignation to pave the way for Worawi's return to the post. Even though Worawi may not be the FAT president, he could offer help in the development of Thai football," said Narinphong.

It was speculated that three candidates were being considered to replace Worawi - Ong-art Kohsingkha, the Thai Premier League chairman, Wimol Kanchana, the chairman of the Regional League, and Chanvit Pholcheewin, the former national team coach.