Football: Thais' World Cup qualifier to stay in Bangkok

Thai supporters cheer ahead of the 2018 World Cup football qualifying match between Thailand and Japan in Bangkok on Sept 6, 2016.
Thai supporters cheer ahead of the 2018 World Cup football qualifying match between Thailand and Japan in Bangkok on Sept 6, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK • Thailand's 2018 World Cup qualifier against Australia will be played in Bangkok after all.

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) had hinted on Friday that the match, scheduled for Nov 15, could be switched to a neutral venue or to Australia after the death of the country's revered monarch, King Bhumipol Adulyadej, last Thursday.

It was following the directives of the Thai government, which announced a 30-day mourning period during which entertainment events would be cancelled or toned down.

However, on Saturday, the government said that sport could carry on as normal. Then yesterday, FAT announced that the Nov 15 Asian Group B match against Australia would still be played in Bangkok.

"We have decided that this is the best possible outcome, because the Australian side said they are not keen to host the match because of the short time to prepare," said Patit Supapong, deputy secretary-general of FAT.

"But there will be restrictions on dress code and cheering equipment and instruments like drums will be prohibited."

However, FAT's decision to end the domestic season early was not changed, despite strong speculation that the final three remaining games of the league campaign would be played, reported ESPN.

Buriram United, Chiang Rai United, Suphanburi and Super Power Samut Prakan said they would not support any move against the original ruling.

Three of them had little to play for in the Thai Premier League (TPL), but Super Power had a lot to gain as they sit just one point above the relegation zone.

Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny's Army United and Chainat Hornbill were relegated from the 18-team league. It remains to be seen if the decision is challenged by one or both relegated clubs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Thais' World Cup qualifier to stay in Bangkok'. Print Edition | Subscribe