Football Association Chief Election Branded As Fraudulent

Mr. Worawi Makudi (centre) moments after he was elected Chairman of the Thai Football Association

(October 18) Threats of lawsuit followed the closely-watched election of the Thai Football Association Chairman, which saw the victory of its controversial incumbent, Mr. Worawi Makudi.

Mr. Worawi was pitched against Mr. Virach Chanpanich in the bid to win his 4th consecutive term as the FA Chairman.

The election has attracted much attention from the public, many calling for the end to Mr. Worawi′s reign in the lucrative Football Association, citing his previous failures to reform the performances and transparency of Thai football industry.

Mr. Worawi′s pre-election promise that he would lead Thai national football team to play in a World Cup is widely derided since he has previously made and missed the same vow.

The fateful election, held yesterday at Golden Tulip Hotel,  was marked with turmoil even before it began, as opponents of Mr. Worawi alleged that the incumbent′s decision to lower the number of voting football clubs from 184 to 72 is designed to keep smaller clubs away and benefit Mr. Worawi′s chance to win his 4th term.

On the day of the vote, Mr. Virach, Mr. Worawi′s contender, claimed that some representatives of six participating football clubs have no rights to cast their ballots, as they were not directly related to the clubs. He also protested the fact that members of the election committee had been changed from what he had agreed.

The disagreement resulted in a delay of several hours, before the election committee dismissed Mr. Virach′s objection and ordered the voting to take place. Representatives of the 72 football clubs then proceeded to cast their votes in a closed session. Members of the press were not allowed to observe the voting.

Later, it emerged that 42 votes were cast in favour of Mr. Worawi, while Mr. Virach received 28 votes. One member abstained, and one ballot was voided.

Mr. Worawi′s new term would last two years, although the Football Association is considering a charter amendment that would extend the post to four years.

Speaking after the voting session, the clearly upset Mr. Virach told the press that he would object to the election result, alleging fraudulent practices in the voting process.

Mr. Virach said he would consult with his legal team about his plan to file lawsuit to the Administrative Court in order to have Mr. Worawi′s victory overturned.

"I actually won ever since the day I announced I would run in the election," Mr. Virach claimed, "Because there was hope that there would be change in the football community".

Mr. Peeradech Amornsukon, the chairman of Rayong United FC, also voiced his displeasure that the election committee had allocated the voting rights of his selected representative to another individual without his agreement. He said he would file a lawsuit to void the election result.

He added: "Rayong FC is very much damaged. We want clarity whether the owners of the club are allowed to manage their own business, because even their voting rights are taken away and given to someone else".

Speaking at the same venue, Mr. Worawi dismissed Mr. Virach′s threat of legal challenge, claiming that many impartial observers had validated the election process, including members of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

"I believe it has been a fair and clean election," said Mr. Worawi, who also serves as an executive of the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

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