KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING — Yet another senior FIFA figure has fallen foul of the law with Thai football boss Worawi Makudi handed a suspended jail term in Bangkok for electoral fraud.
Makudi, president of the Football Association of Thailand, was sentenced by the Bangkok South District Court to two years in prison and a fine of 6,000 baht [$170] – all later eased – after being found guilty of falsifying documents in a presidential election.
Two months ago Makudi was voted off the executive committee of FIFA after 18 years which had established him as one of the longest-serving members of the world federation’s controversy-battered governing board.
Makudi said later that he would appeal against the sentence which was identical to that of fellow accused Ong-art Korsinca, the president of Thai Premier League Co Ltd and former FAT secretary general.
The court’s initial penalties were commuted to a suspended jail term of one year four months and a 4,000 baht fine [$74] because the two were considered to be first offenders.
They had been sued by the Pattaya FC for falsifying documents and giving false information in the FAT election in October 2013 which saw Makudi re-elected. FIFA had dismissed an appeal to intervene.
Makudi has been president from 1996 until 2007 when he stepped up from the role of general secretary. His career has been marred by a series of scandals but, until now, he had always fended off accusations, including one over alleged misuse of FIFA development funds.
One battle he did not win was against Lord David Triesman, former head of the Football Association and leader of England’s doomed 2018 World Cup bid.
In May 2011, Triesman told the UK parliamentary culture, media and sport committee that Makudi had demanded the TV rights to a friendly between England and Thailand in return for voting for the FA’s vote in the scandal-assailed World Cup bid process.
Makudi’s attempt to sue Triesman for libel, notwithstanding the allegations being bound by parliamentary privilege, was rejected in February last year by the Court of Appeal.
Later Makudi told this writer: “This business with Lord Triesman: none of it was true. I was very upset. If he had a problem why didn’t he come out and say it in the open? Then we could have discussed it, man to man. Like gentlemen.”
Makudi, 63, was voted on to the FIFA exco orginally back in 1997, one year before Sepp Blatter succeeded Joao Havelange as president. However this past April, the congress of the Asian Football Confederation voted to replace him as its east zone FIFA delegate by Malaysia’s Prince Abdullah, son of a former AFC president.
Makudi had feared the worst for some time and had travelled widely, including to Qatar as well as to Belfast this past spring as a member of the FIFA delegation to the International Board annual meeting in pursuit of support.
All proved in vain at the AFC election in Bahrain when he received only 13 votes compared with Prince Abdullah’s 25.
Unconfirmed reports have suggested that Makudi remains under investigation by FIFA’ ethics committee over his entanglement in the FIFA exco’s awards of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.
Half the members of the FIFA exco at the time have left the game under a cloud.
The court conviction could yet see Makudi being punished further with a FIFA ethics commission suspension from all football which would bring to an end his command of the Thai game.