Govt offers World Cup loan
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Govt offers World Cup loan

Fans likely to miss out on first match

Prawit: TV rights in limbo
Prawit: TV rights in limbo

World Cup fans in Thailand are likely to miss out on being able to watch the first match on Sunday after the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) failed to agree on a price with football's international governing body (Fifa).

A source close to the cabinet meeting on Tuesday said Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon told those present there is a high chance that an agreement would not be concluded in time.

Fifa has set the TV broadcasting rights price tag for Thailand at 1.6 billion baht. He said the SAT has asked to lower it to 1.2 billion.

At present, the SAT has a pot of 600 million baht from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's research and development fund along with 200 million baht from the SAT and a further 400 million baht pledged by private companies.

However, that still leaves a 400-million-baht shortfall, said the source.

Hosted by Qatar, the World Cup kicks off on Sunday with the final on Dec 18. The curtain raiser will be a game between the host country and Ecuador at 11pm.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the SAT can borrow from the government if necessary but he opposed using the central budget to buy the broadcasting rights.

SAT governor Kongsak Yodmadee said on Monday the football governing body had agreed to lower the price slightly, adding the SAT needed to fulfil the promise that was made by Gen Prawit two weeks ago that all matches would be aired free and live on Thai TV.

But Gen Prawit on Tuesday appeared to backpedal on Tuesday. "I don't know," he told reporters at Government House, suggesting the SAT was the appropriate agency to ask for an answer to that question.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said during a media briefing after the cabinet meeting that the broadcasting rights fee was too high but said it would be the duty of the negotiator to bring it down.

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