Decision on stadium looms

With just three days before the World Cup kicks off, Fifa is expected to decide today whether the Bangkok Futsal Arena is ready for the tournament.

"Fifa representatives will inspect the stadium in the morning and I will hold a press conference to announce their decision in the afternoon," said Worawi Makudi, president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), yesterday.

While the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) which is responsible for construction of the stadium in Nong Chok on its own land says it is ready for Fifa's final inspection, Worawi is not sure.

"I don't know if Fifa will approve the use of the stadium or not," said Worawi, who is also a Fifa executive member.

He also called on critics to give cooperation instead of criticism.

Last week, Worawi said even if Fifa does not give the green light for the use of the Nong Chok arena, the tournament will not be affected as the other three stadiums are enough.

He said the organisers had plans for Hua Mark Indoor Stadium and Nimibutr Gymnasium in Bangkok and Chatchai Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima to host more matches if the stadium fails to complete in time. "Fifa is pleased with our preparations because we have substitution plans," he said.

Construction delays of the 1.2 billion baht stadium forced Fifa to change the tournament schedule earlier this month.

The Bangkok Futsal Arena was slated for the opening ceremony and matches from the first round but will now host games from the quarter-finals _ if it is complete in time.

Fifa was originally scheduled to make its final inspection of the stadium last Sunday but the arena was not ready.

At the World Cup, Thailand open their campaign on Thursday against Costa Rica at Indoor Stadium with the other two teams in Group A being Ukraine and Paraguay.

The top two teams from each of the six first-round groups and four best third-placed sides advance to the knockout stages.