was introduced to Thailand long before it was in several Asian countries
and the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) celebrated its 90th
anniversary last week. The FAT was established 14 years before the first
World Cup was staged in 1930. After nearly a century, Thailand are still
waiting for their first appearance at the World Cup finals.
Concerned parties believe that things could change for the better and are
looking forward to a bright future. One good sign is that the FAT now has
its own National Training Centre which was officially opened last week.
Every four years, Thai football officials will talk about Thailand
securing their first World Cup spot and that time has arrived again.
FAT bosses are dreaming that Thailand will be a participant at the 2010
FAT president Vijitr Getkaew said it would not be too difficult for
Thailand to make it to the 2010 finals as well as the Olympics if the
government funds Thai football properly.
Siriwat, chairman of the National Football Development Committee, also
believes that with support it will not be an impossible task to clinch a
World Cup berth in 2010.
Chaiyapak will ask the government to allocate sufficient funds to hire
around 20-30 players to create ''Dream Team II'' who would play full-time
for the national side under the guidance of top coaches.
The ''Dream Team'' project would be costly. But it is debatable whether it
would become a success story as no powerhouses in the world of football
use the idea.
The players would stay together and gel but they would lack the experience
of playing competitively week in week out in local or overseas leagues.
One of the most important factors for the development of a national squad
is a strong local league. We have two football leagues _ the Thailand
Premier League and the Provincial League (Pro League) _ but both are not
It is reported that next season's prize money for the FAT-run Thailand
Premier League will increase to 25 million baht from the current 10
This will make the Thailand Premier League more competitive. But it is
inevitably seen as an attempt to knock out the Pro League, which is
organised by the Tourism and Sports Ministry.
is the chairman of the organising committee of the Thailand Premier
League, so he should work harder to merge the two leagues before thinking
about other ambitious projects.
Vijitr and Chaiyapak's calls for support from the government come at the
wrong time. The caretaker administration can only act on urgent matters
and a football issue is certainly not an emergency.
Their 2010 World Cup target is not likely to be reached. They should set a
more realistic aim and come up with long-term development projects instead
of trumpeting intangible dreams.
In the meantime, Vijitr could face a political blow. He was elected as an
MP in his home province of Suphan Buri in the April 2 general election
after two failed attempts. While Vijitr and other elected candidates have
been endorsed by the Election Commission, the polls could be nullified by
the high courts.
would have a very slim chance of getting elected in a fresh election. A
ruling Thai Rak Thai member, Vijitr was victorious in the April 2 polls
because he was the only candidate in his constituency due to the
The opposition parties, including Chart Thai, have promised to contest a
new election. Chart Thai leader Banharn Silapa-archa is so dominant in
Suphan Buri that few would dare bet against Banharn-backed candidates in
the province which is dubbed Banharn Buri.
If a new election is called and Thai Rak Thai fail to return to power, it
could be a major setback for the FAT since many of its bosses are Thai Rak
Thai members including Chaiyapak. Good luck, Vijitr and Co.