Worawi wants Fifa ban voided as he's cleared on appeal

BANGKOK • Worawi Makudi, the former head of Thailand's football association (FAT), will seek to have his five-year Fifa ban overturned after he was declared not guilty of forgery and falsification by an appeals court, according to local media reports.

He received the ban from Fifa's ethics committee in October last year after the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court handed him a suspended 16-month prison sentence in 2015 for altering documents ahead of the 2013 FAT presidential election.

With his conviction quashed by the appeals court on Friday, his lawyer Narinpong Jinapak told the Thai media his client would seek to have his global football ban overturned.

"It has been proven that Worawi Makudi is not guilty as charged. He is clean," Narinpong told a news conference. "He told me after learning of the court ruling that he is very happy."

According to the Bangkok Post, Worawi's lawyer said he would ask Fifa to lift the ban, with the possibility of taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if the request was unsuccessful.

Fifa's ethics committee originally opened an investigation into Worawi in July 2015 after he had been convicted of forgery.

In addition to the five-year ban from all football activities, which was handed down in October 2015, he was also fined 10,000 Swiss francs (S$14,000).

He was succeeded as head of FAT in February last year by former police chief Somyot Poompanmuang and was banned again soon after, for failing to respect the earlier suspension.

The 65-year-old, who was on the Fifa executive committee that voted to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar, had been an Asian Football Confederation representative on the committee for 18 years until he was voted out in 2015.

Narinpong stopped short of confirming whether Worawi would resume his career in football administration, reported The Nation.

"As to whether he will continue to work for Thai football, I can't speak for him. He needs to address that question," said the lawyer. "Over the past two years, he was seen as a convicted guy. We also currently have a president who legitimately won the post in an election.

"So, maybe he will need some time to lick his wounds before making a decision on whether to make a return at the next election."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 23, 2017, with the headline 'Worawi wants Fifa ban voided as he's cleared on appeal'. Print Edition | Subscribe