FAT rule that sidelined Worawi needs revision

FAT rule that sidelined Worawi needs revision

Former FAT chief Worawi Makudi. Pattarapong Chatpattarasill
Former FAT chief Worawi Makudi. Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) presidential election on Wednesday turned out to be a bit of a bore, but it was expected to be so ever since former association chief Worawi Makudi was thrown out of the race.

Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang was a heavy favourite to retain the office and his landslide 51-17 victory over Nakhon Sawan MP Pinyo Niroj came as no surprise to anyone as well.

So shall we assume that all is well on the national football scene?

No, it isn't.

While Pinyo accepted his defeat and also vowed not to compete for the top FAT office ever again, Worawi promptly lodged a complaint with world football governing body Fifa.

He is also contemplating seeking "justice" from the local court of law and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Soon after the completion of the FAT election, Worawi confirmed to the media he had already submitted a complaint to Fifa and photographed copies of his hand-written letter were made available for the world to see.

In the letter, the former FAT president requested Fifa to "take control of the documents of the voters who many of them had proxy documents which are not permitted to vote in the FAT Extraordinary Congress today [Wednesday] according to [clauses Nos.] 22.2 and 22.3 in the FAT statutes."

Worawi, who attended Wednesday's meeting as an eligible voter in his capacity as president of third-tier Thai-Union Samut Sakhon FC, requested the world body to "treat this request and complaint as of utmost urgency".

So far, Fifa's only response to the FAT election has been a letter from its chief Gianni Infantino, telling Somyot to "please accept my... sincerest congratulations on your re-election as president of the FAT for the 2020-24 period."

A similar congratulatory communique has also been received from the Asean Football Federation (AFF).

Unfortunately for Worawi, he isn't a darling of Fifa anymore.

Worawi, who was FAT chief from 2007-2015, could not contest the previous FAT presidential election in 2016 because he was suspended by Fifa.

Somyot was voted FAT president in the 2016 polls with an easy win against Charnwit Phalajivin who was believed to be Worawi's proxy.

Last February, Worawi had his three-and-a-half-year ban by Fifa rescinded by the CAS.

Worawi, also a former Fifa executive committee member, was suspended from all football-related activities in October 2015 for five years following his conviction for forgery in a Thai court and for failing to cooperate with a Fifa investigation.

His ban was cut by 18 months in 2018 after he took his case to Fifa's appeals committee.

He was cleared by the CAS of an ethics breach related to forgery and falsification, but was found in violation for failing to cooperate to a lesser degree than by Fifa instances.

A CAS panel instead issued a reprimand and halved his initial fine of 10,000 Swiss francs to 5,000.

Worawi does not seem to have an even odds-against chance of getting the FAT election abrogated by Fifa.

This all isn't the most worrying part of this entire saga. What is really sinister is the FAT rule which got Worawi barred from taking part in Wednesday's election.

Last month, the FAT announced that Worawi could not stand in the election because the regulations state that a person who is or was sued by the organisation or suspended by Fifa is deemed unqualified to seek the association's top office.

Worawi had lodged a complaint with the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) whose governor Gongsak Yodmani backed the FAT, saying the association is entitled to have its own regulations for the benefit of the organisation.

This rule and its implementation may have paved the way for a comfortable victory for Somyot, but it leaves the doors open for many disgruntled parties to drag the FAT into unwanted bouts of mudslinging in the future.

Even worse, what if the association, one of the richest sports organisations in the country, falls into the wrong hands at some point in the future?

Any opposition or coup can be snuffed out effectively by simply filing a lawsuit against the proponent concerned.

For the best interest of the FAT and football, it is of the utmost importance to get this rule scratched out of the organisation's statutes as soon as possible.

There is no point providing the wrong crowd with an easy access to lethal ammo.

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