BANGKOK: The complex battle for control of Thai football turned a new page with the authority overseeing the country’s sport suggesting the football federation’s proposed new regulations may contravene the law writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Resolution of the issue is crucial to a bid by FAT’s acting president Worawi Makudi to maintain both his grip on domestic power and his status as a member of world federation FIFA’s executive committee.
Makudi has been fighting for his sports political future ever since he suffered a humiliating defeat in the presidential election of the Asian Football Confederation earlier this year.
The Thai controversy erupted around proposals from Makudi to change the electoral make-up of the FAT Council. His proposed regulation change would reduce the voting power of the clubs by cutting the voting eligibility from 180 members to 72.
Although Makudi has been at the centre of FIFA controversy on and off for the past three years, he has the world federation onside in this dispute. The reason is that its own statutes seek to prohibit government interference in the running of a national association.
This is an awkward statute for FIFA to police because, in many countries in Asia and Africa, sports administration comes under a direct governmental administrative umbrella.
In Thailand sports administration power is directly linked through the Local Administration Department and a subsidiary, the Sports Authority of Thailand.
Makudi’s presidential term ended on June 16 and an election should have been held within 30 days according to the FAT statutes. However Makudi ordered a delay until after the new regulations had been enacted. His opponents say he has no power to act unilaterally in this manner.
In the (alphabet soup) meantime the SAT sent the proposed new FAT constitution to the LAD for a view; the latter has responded that the regulations could breach both the civil and commercial law of the land as well as its constitution.
Makudi’s opponents – notably several powerful clubs and former national manager Virach Charnpanich – say FAT should call an election immediately so that a new body can consider the new charter afterwards.
Makudi, 61, has been an AFC delegate to the FIFA exco since 1997; only Julio Grondona (Argentina), Issa Hayatou (Cameroon) and Michel d’Hooghe (Belgium) have sat at the top table longer.
However, his fading support within the AFC was demonstrated in the presidential election. In February he was promised unanimous support by the 11 members of the ASEAN Football Federation (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam) plus co-opted Australia.
However, by the time of the election, five FAs had switched sides and he collected only seven votes compared with the 33 for runaway winner Sheikh Salman from Bahrain.
Makudi has had a controversial tenure in charge of Thai football.
Most notably he flew to Port of Spain with disgraced former AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam to attend the infamous FIFA presidential conference organised by the Caribbean Football Union and its then president Jack Warner.
Later in 2011, Makudi was cleared by FIFA over accusations concerning the use of development grants.
He came in for criticism in November last year over the poor organising of the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand where construction of the main venue was not completed in time to be used.
In February this year he failed with a London libel action against Lord David Triesman, ex-chairman of both the Football Association and England’s doomed 2018 World Cup, bid to win host rights to the 2018 World Cup.
Triesman had told a parliamentary committee that Makudi had asked for TV rights for himself for a vote-encouraging friendly match between Thailand and England. Makudi’s action was struck down by Mr Justice Tugendhat because the comments had been made under parliamentary privilege.