In Bangkok, New FIFA Head Praises Former Police Chief and ‘Fairy Tales’

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, at left, listens to junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at Government House on Thursday in Bangkok. Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha / Associated Press

BANGKOK — FIFA President Gianni Infantino visited the headquarters of Leicester’s ownership company on Thursday and said the club’s Premier League title run shows that fairy tales are still possible.

Infantino, visiting Thailand for the centenary of the local soccer association, met with local officials at the hotel connected to the headquarters of King Power, the duty free company which is the main business interest of Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Leicester was a 5000-1 outsider when the season began but can clinch the Premier League title on Sunday if the team wins at Manchester United.

“Money does not necessarily win in football,” Infantino said. “Fairy tales like the fairy tale of Leicester are exactly showing us that football is unpredictable.


“Money is an important element when you build up a team, but it’s not only this.”


Former Royal Thai Police chief Gen. Somyot Pumpanmuang, now president of the Football Association of Thailand, listens to FIFA President FIFA President Gianni Infantino, at right, during a Thursday press conference in Bangkok. Photo: Sakchai Lalit / Associated Press

The FIFA president, who took over the role in February following the corruption scandal that engulfed the world body and predecessor Sepp Blatter, said he was impressed by his meeting with the new head of the Football Association of Thailand, former national police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang.

Somyot represented a new administration for the FAT following the suspension of predecessor Worawi Makudi, the former FIFA executive committee member who is now banned as part of the fallout from the FIFA scandal.

“We have zero tolerance on any of the wrongdoing that may have happened,” Infantino said. “I am convinced (Somyot) is the right person to lead football in Thailand into a new era.”

Infantino also discussed the ongoing suspension of Indonesia, and said the country was running out of time to come up with reform proposals and avoid a lengthy ban.

The Indonesian soccer association has been suspended because of government interference.

Infantino met the head of the association’s reform committee, Agum Gumelar, in Zurich this week, and said Thursday that they have until this year’s FIFA congress in May to lay out reform plans.

If the FIFA executive committee does not lift the suspension before the FIFA congress, the ban could be confirmed at that meeting and therefore be in place until the congress meets again in 2017.

“This, for me, is the deadline to receive some sort of procedure from Indonesia that they want to move forward.” Infantino said. “They know what they have to do.

“A suspension or an exclusion is never a solution, it’s a failure. A failure for us as well because we have not been able to convince everyone to do the right thing.”


Story: Associated Press

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