BANGKOK: FIFA’s policy of taking its junior championships to more risky hosts has hit its latest setback after the main venue for the Futsal World Cup in Thailand had to be replaced with the event already under way writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Bangkok’s Futsal Arena, troubled by a string of preparation delays, should have hosted its first games – two quarter-final ties – early next week. Now they will be played at other venues.

Thai football has provided a string of headaches for the world federation over the past year with the status of the local federation and its president and FIFA execo delegate, Worawi Makudi, coming under fire.

Makudi was cleared by FIFA, in 2011, of allegations that he had sought inducements from England in the 2018 World Cup bid campaign; then he was cleared again over allegations of a conflict of interest over land . . . on which the new Thai stadium complex is being built.

A FIFA statement said: “Although further significant progress has been made, including the installation of a pitch, the key criteria laid out on October 31 . . . have not been sufficiently met. The safety of spectators, teams and all other visitors to the stadium are of paramount importance.

“FIFA and the Local Organising Committee therefore concluded that such a fundamental issue, as well as the functionality of core services and facilities, cannot be compromised.”

The quarter-finals set for November 14 will  now be played at Bangkok’s Nimibutr Stadium, while the semi-finals and final would be hosted at Bangkok’s Indoor Stadium Huamark. Both stadiums have   hosted group  matches.

Makudi may face some hard questions over his country and federation’s apparent incompetence, at the next FIFA executive committee meeting, in Tokyo next month.

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