Football: Defiant Worawi refuses to give up control of Thai FA

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Fifa executive committee member Worawi Makudi has refused to give up control of the Thailand Football Association (FAT) despite his presidential term ending over a week ago and no new date set for elections.

A vote had been set for the final day of his two-year term on June 16 but he cancelled it after fourth-tier club Pattaya FC managed to get a court injunction blocking controversial reforms the president had hoped to push through a day before the election.

The main issue Pattaya had with the Fifa-backed reforms centred on one statute which would cut the number of eligible voters from around 180 to 72.

Pattaya said they backed down on Monday - after Fifa had threatened to suspend Thailand - because the president's term was over.

Worawi told local media on Tuesday he remained in charge, but did not give a new date for the election or reform talks.

"Article 17 of the FAT statutes states clearly that the incumbent administrative board is able to stay in the post until the appointment of the new management," Worawi said in an interview on Thailand's Channel 3 news show.

"Fifa again stated clearly in a letter sent to us that we must approve the new FAT rules before we can hold the poll. We can do nothing to change Fifa's decision. We can't find another way to get round that."

Thai Sports Law states a vote must be held within 30 days of the expiry of the incumbent's term and presidential candidate Virat Chanpanich said he would push the Sports Authority to enforce it, adding that Worawi had no right to retain power.

Worawi's critics argue that reducing the number of voters is a ploy to improve his chances of victory as his popularity appears to be suffering.

The 61-year-old denies the claim, arguing he was not behind the reduction in numbers but was merely following orders from the sport's world governing body.

"We now live in a world where we cannot hide anything," said Worawi, who lost to Sheikh Salman Ibrahim Al Khalifa in the Asian Football Confederation presidential election in May.

"Fifa know everything because they researched the number of teams playing in the country's domestic competitions.

"They subsequently proposed a new structure for Thai football.

"I myself want teams from each province to have voting rights. But Fifa saw that those teams were still not run professionally."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.