Thailand may lose right to co-host Asian Cup (October 17, 2006)



TOR CHITTINAND

Thailand may lose its status as one of the hosts of next year's Asian Cup after a stadium inspection by Asian Football Confederation officials yesterday.

AFC secretary general Peter Velappan said Rajamangala stadium must be made all-seater and that the changing rooms have to be switched to the opposite side near the media area.

If the conditions are not met then Thailand could forfeit the chance to hold the competition with Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Velappan said a lot of work needs to be done to bring the arena up to standard.

"'We were quite disappointed by the late preparation in Thailand because the other three countries have already finished their adjustments,' he said.

"Thailand have many things to improve."

AFC officials will meet with sports minister Suvit Yodmani today to try and solve the situation.

If no satisfactory conclusion can be reached then Singapore and Brunei are believed to be the leading contenders to take over as co-hosts.

Velappan added that he had been unimpressed by a lack of advertising in the kingdom about the competition.

"We wanted Thailand to promote the Asian Cup more," he said.

"We have not seen any signs promoting the tournament at all.

"It seems Thailand want to promote the World University Games more than the Asian Cup and this could make the competition less popular."

The honorary president of the Football Association of Thailand, Chaiyapak Siriwat, said a new proposal would be presented to AFC officials today.

"The old one was done when Somsak Thepsuthin was sports minister," he said.

"If the government doesn't support the tournament then the AFC are likely to withdraw Thailand as hosts.

"This will be a big disgrace for us and the Thai people.

"The AFC secretary general asked me what work had been done in the last two years, because there were many things that we agreed to do.

"But the government has failed to do anything to improve the stadiums.

"We are waiting for a budget of 40 million baht to renovate Rajamangala stadium and if we get that then everything should be okay."The AFC has extended the deadline for work it until the end of the January."

The tournament is set to take place next July.