The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) will on Thursday elect its boss in one of the most controversial polls in the country's sporting history.
Thai soccer boss Worawi Makudi.
Former national team manager Virach Charnpanich is trying to dethrone Worawi Makudi who has been FAT president since 2008.
Virach had fiercely campaigned against Worawi's push for changes to the association's regulations to be in line with Fifa statutes but he surprisingly made a U-turn and accepted Worawi's proposal a few weeks ago claiming that he did not want the country to be punished by Fifa.
The main point of the changes is a reduction in the number of eligible voters from about 180 to 72.
In the run-up to today's event, it looked more like an election for a political position than for a sporting post, with numerous reports about mudslinging, intimidation, voting buying and 'dark influence.'
"Several clubs [eligible voters] received anonymous phone calls," several newspapers reported on Wednesday.
Indeed, many key players in the FAT election are politicians themselves.
Virach is backed by Thai Premier League powerhouses Buriram United and Chonburi FC. Buriram are owned by outspoken Newin Chidchob, who claims he has washed his hands of politics, and Chonburi are run by people from Palang Chon party.
Worawi, who has been at the FAT for decades, is an executive of Pheu Thai party which leads the coalition government.
It was reported that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is believed to be the 'big boss' of Pheu Thai, tried to use his influence to help Worawi who has dismissed the claim.
Both Virach and Worawi have promised to take Thailand to their first ever World Cup finals.
While Virach says the World Cup dream will become true at the 2022 finals, Worawi says he intends to guide the national team to every World Cup finals.
Both have vowed to promote transparency, push for development at every level and hire professionals to help run the association, among other promises.
Virach lost to Worawi in controversial circumstances in the previous election two years ago.
"I won't let this happen again," Virach said after he announced his candidacy earlier this year.
At a press conference this week, Worawi said: "I have been confident that I will win since I unveiled people who would be in my administration [a few weeks ago]."
Worawi, a Fifa executive member, is seeking his third two-year term as FAT president.
For the first time in Thailand's sporting history, there is a commission, whose members were selected by Worawi and Virach, to oversee the FAT election.
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