Worawi buying time in battle to keep top job (08/05/2011)

Worawi Makudi, the incumbent president of the Football Association of Thailand, is fighting the toughest battle of his career in his bid to remain in office.

He and other FAT executives agreed to postpone Friday's election for FAT president after, they claimed, several member clubs were represented by more than one voter at the poll.

A new date is expected to be scheduled for later this month when Worawi, who is also a Fifa exectutive member, returns from a Fifa meeting.

Reports claimed the postponement was just delaying tactics as Worawi could be defeated by former national team manager Virach Chanpanich, who is an FAT executive.

Worawi succeeded Vijitr Getkaew in 2007 after his mentor resigned as FAT president. Worawi had been expected to be re-elected on Friday with former Pichate Munkong the only challenger.

In came Virach who was expected to be nominated as a third candidate at Friday's election. It was reported that Virach was backed by Vijitr who is still one of the most powerful figures in Thai football.

Vijitr reportedly has control of about 60-80 voters and Pichate, who has about 30 supporters, was said to be ready to back Virach. Worawi is believed to have only 30-40 votes in his hands.

With 173 voters, who include 19 FAT executive members, a simple majority is needed for a win.

It is reported that Vijitr still has the biggest say in an election for FAT president.

Critics believe Worawi had been backed by Vijitr until recently when Vijitr was upset by Worawi and thought about making a return as FAT boss.

According to reports, Vijitr withrew his threat after talks with Worawi but Vijitr changed his mind just before Friday's election.

Observers believe that if Vijitr withdraws his support for Worawi, it is not likely for him to be re-elected as FAT chief.

An election for FAT president is similar to a general election in which candidates are elected because of factors other than their ability.

It is unfortunate for Worawi that he does not have even support from fans. He and his administration have been under fire for their poor management and the national teams' embarrassing results in recent years.

It is unacceptable to fans that the U23 side, once the major force in Southeast Asia, were eliminated in the first round at the 2009 SEA Games and the full national team failed to get past the group stage at the 2010 Suzuki Cup (Southeast Asian championship).

Following the Suzuki Cup setback late last year, a group of fans staged protests to demand that Worawi resign as FAT president.

Just a few days before Friday's election, the FAT was hit by a hammer blow when the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced that Thailand were booted out from the 2012 Olympic qualifying round for fielding a suspended player in a previous match.

Not surprisingly, after Friday's incident, a large number of fans attacked Worawi for trying to cling to power, while others gave Virach their backing in his bid to become FAT chief.

Worwawi is expected to meet AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam this week to seek his help to allow Thailand to compete in the Olympic qualifying round.

At least, Worawi would gain public support if he is successful in his attempt to bring Thailand back to the Olympic qualifiers.

Unfortunately, it is not likely that Bin Hammam would try to use his influence to overrule the AFC's decision to kick out Thailand from the Olympic qualifying.

Worawi is close to Bin Hammam but this could back fire as the June 1 election for Fifa president draws near.

The Qatari is running against incumbent Fifa chief Sepp Blatter. If Bin Hammam does Thailand a favour, he could be accused of nepotism.

Few tears would be shed if Worawi fails to get re-elected as FAT president. He would lose his Fifa executive position if he is no longer an executive member of his country's football association.

As for Virach, he would have to prove he is not anyone's puppet if he is elected as FAT president .

Source : http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/sports/235888/worawi-buying-time-in-battle-to-keep-top-job