FIFA suspension looms as Thais fight reforms

(Reuters) – Thailand face a FIFA-imposed suspension on Monday after a lowly fourth tier club refused to balk at pressure from the world governing body to drop a court order halting controversial reforms that has left the game in crisis.

Thai FA (FAT) leader and FIFA executive committee member Worawi Makudi has also, so far unsuccessfully, pressured Pattaya FC to drop the court injunction which led to him postponing last Sunday’s FAT presidential elections indefinitely.

The argument centres on one of the FIFA and Worawi backed reforms that would see the slashing of the number of eligible voters from around 180 to just 72.

Worawi wanted to push through the new reforms in line with FIFA statues in a vote on June 15 before holding the presidential election a day later, just before his latest term ended.

But Pattaya secured an order from Bangkok’s Min Buri court on June 14 that prevented the Thai FA meeting to vote on the matter before the court reaches a verdict on the club’s claim, local media reported

Critics say shrinking the vote is a ploy by Worawi to retain his seat amongst growing unpopularity. The controversial 61-year-old says the new reforms are a FIFA prerequisite.

FIFA said they could impose a suspension on Thailand should Pattaya not drop the claim today, which Worawi said would jeopardise lucrative tours by Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea to the Southeast Asian country in the coming weeks.

The Thai Sports Authority are also watching the case with Thai Sports law dictating that an election must be held within 30 days of the incumbent’s term expiring.

Annop Singtothong, vice president of Thai Premier League club Chon Buri FC and a rival of Worawi, said this week he would canvas members of the FAT to force the election to happen within the 30-day period and queried the timing of the reforms.

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