Chanvit confusion was easy to avoid (March 07, 2007)


Chanvit Phalajivin was in the headlines when he quit as Thailand's national football coach last month after Vietnamese side Dong Thap agreed to pay him 500,000 baht a month plus other fringe benefits.

Chanvit later went to Vietnam to finalise the deal. But instead of signing a contract, he demanded that the V-League club pay him an extra four million baht as compensation for his resignation from government service in Thailand.

While he was waiting for a reply from Dong Thap, he decided not to go to Vietnam and will be the Thailand coach for another year.

He changed his mind after a talk with Tourism and Sports Minister Suvit Yodmani who asked him to help his country. Chanvit is expected to take charge of the Thai sides for three tournaments on their home soil - the Asian Cup in July, the World University Games in August and the SEA Games in December.

Chanvit insisted that the about-turn had nothing to do with his demand for extra money, although critics think Dong Thap would not have been keen to meet his demands.

In fact, 500,000 baht a month is a handsome sum for a Thai coach working in Southeast Asia. Chanvit gets around 200,000 baht a month for coaching Thailand.

Former Thailand coach Chatchai Paholpat, who is more or less of Chanvit's calibre, reportedly receives around 200,000-300,000 baht from Vietnamese club Hoang Anh-Gia Lai.

Chanvit has his price and it was fair for him to ask for compensation as he has eight years left in government service before the retirement age of 60. But one may wonder why he didn't raise the matter at their initial talks.

This can only hurt his reputation. While Dong Thap publicly said they understood his situation, it seemed to be a diplomatic response. Behind his back, they might label him greedy.

Next time when Chanvit negotiates with a club, he should set his conditions from the start and not make further demands when the club agrees to his terms.

Dong Thap asked Chanvit to talk to them first when he completes his spell with Thailand. But if Thailand fare badly in the three tournaments, it remains to be seen whether the Vietnamese side will be keen to offer him a contract.

FAT president Vijitr Getkaew was also in the headlines in the Thai press last week when there were reports that he would quit. But his critics were disappointed when they learned that the reports were groundless.

Vijitr told Thai Rath newspaper that he had often heard reports about his resignation. While he once in a while thinks about quitting, he has not yet made a decision. In another words he will not quit at the moment.

He admitted he sometimes felt disheartened that he had tried to work as hard as possible but this didn't stop "unfair" reports against him.

"When that time comes, I will have to go. I do not cling to power. I often feel disheartened because everything is thrown at me (when things go wrong)," Vijitr was quoted as saying by the best-selling newspaper.

"When our football teams fail, people blame me. When a job is not successful, people scold at me. I'm fed up with it."

I have sympathy for Vijitr. He has worked very hard but people do not see his good deeds. His critics may forget that during his reign, Thailand have reached the semi-finals of the Asian Games twice and won numerous SEA Games titles.

He is a very patient man. He has worked in an apparently unpleasant position for years but he is still able to work hard despite incessant unfair criticism against him.

He is not one who clings to power. But he is still in office after more than a decade as Thailand's football chief probably because there is not a suitable person to replace him.

However, judging from Vijitr's remarks that "when our football teams fail, people blame me" the FAT president does not have to shoulder responsibility for the national sides' failure.

So what is the responsibility of FAT boss? Is the position just that of a figurehead who does not have to do anything or take any responsibility? If so, then anybody can be FAT president. You can, can't you?