Thailand faces FIFA ban over FA legal disputeAP , Associated Press
Jun. 19, 2013 4:17 AM ET
BANGKOK (AP) — FIFA has warned the Football Association of Thailand that the country faces a ban from international competition unless a legal dispute over its elections, and the presidency of FIFA executive committee member Worawi Makudi, is resolved this week.
Pattaya Football Club went to a local court to prevent a change in the FAT's statutes which would reduce the number of voting clubs in upcoming elections from 184 to 72. That caused the scheduled FAT congress to be postponed last weekend.
The club and others supporting change in the FAT hierarchy believed the reduction would boost the re-election chances of Worawi, who has held onto to his role as FAT president despite being an ally of former Asian Football Confederation chief and FIFA presidential aspirant Mohammed bin Hammam, who was banned for life after a vote-buying scandal.
FIFA rules do not allow for civil courts to get involved in the administration of national football bodies and said if the lawsuit is not dropped by this Monday, Thailand faces an international ban.
"Please take note that should the club's action (lawsuit) not to be withdrawn by 24 June 2013, the matter will be referred to the FIFA Emergency Committee to take appropriate measures against the FAT," FIFA deputy secretary-general Markus Kattner said in a letter sent to the FAT this week.
"Such a suspension would mean that the FAT would lose all its membership rights... as well as prevent all Thailand teams (national or club) from having international contact and participating in FIFA and AFC competitions."
Among the teams most immediately threatened by a FIFA and AFC ban would be Buriram United, which is into the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions Leauge, and the Thai national futsal team which is already committed to take part in the Asian Indoor Games in Incheon, South Korea at the end of this month.
FIFA also demanded the FAT take action against Pattaya FC for going to the courts.
"Recourse to ordinary courts of law is, as a general rule, prohibited and the FAT shall impose sanctions on parties that fail to respect the aforementioned obligation," Kattner's letter said.
Worawi's term as president expired last Sunday, but he has argued new elections cannot take place until the new statutes — with the reduced suffrage — are put in place.
While his opponents believe the election should be held first, and then the statutory changes can be enacted later, FIFA backed Worawi's stance.
"Please be reminded that in accordance with the decision of the FIFA Associations Committee on 14 February 2013, the FAT must adopt revised FAT statutes and only then can the election (for FAT president) take place and by no later than 30 September 2013," Kattner said.
"Failure to respect this decision would again mean the matter would be referred to the competent FIFA body to take appropriate measures."