Football - No election before reforms agreed, says Worawi

Controversial reforms must be implemented before Thai soccer officials can go to the polls, said FIFA executive committee member Worawi Makudi, dismissing the demands of the country's top sports adminsitrators to hold the election first.

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Worawi's term as Thai Football Association president ended on June 16 but scheduled elections were postponed after he failed to push through FIFA-backed reforms, which included slashing the number of eligible voters by more than half to 72.

On Tuesday, 108 of the 179 members signed a petition demanding the FAT bring forward the vote to July 23 in line with Thai sports law but Worawi said further talks on the reforms will take place on Aug. 8 before the election on Sept. 23.

"We have already decided that we can't hold elections immediately. We have to implement reforms before holding the next election," Worawi said.

A lawyer for the 108 dissenting clubs said on Wednesday they would hold their own elections in early August if the July 23 date was not met.

Asked if the election will be held this month, Worawi said: "We have to put in place reforms."

The country's top sports administrators disagreed.

"The Sports Authority of Thailand has nothing against the FIFA reforms but first we must deal with the matter at hand and under Thai sports law an election must be held once the incumbent's term comes to an end," SAT official Somporn Chaisongkhram said..

"Every sports association in Thailand should conform with international sporting laws.

"The Sports Authority of Thailand has nothing against the FIFA reforms but how can we confront the matter now when registration under Thai law hasn't taken place yet?"

Somporn said the SAT had instigated proceedings against basketball and boxing organisations in the past for failing to follow their guidelines.

Critics of Worawi have questioned the timing of the implementation just before an election.

The 61-year-old, who lost to Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa in the Asian Football Confederation presidential elections in May, said he is simply following FIFA guidelines.

The world governing body have been vocal in the case, successfully putting pressure on fourth tier Thai club Pattaya FC to drop a court injunction last month that blocked discussion about the reforms.

Attempts by Reuters to establish FIFA's latest position on the case went unanswered.

Pattaya said they only dropped the court action once Worawi's term expired, theoretically putting him out of office but he still appears to be calling the shots.

"We had to delay the election because of the court injunction but now the date is set," said Worawi, who will hold a news conference on Friday.

The SAT said they hoped the more pressing issue would be discussed on Friday.

"Worawi has the right to express his opinions and hold a press conference explaining what it is he would like to see happen in terms of the election," Somporn said.

"But the reforms are far off whereas the present matter is the matter of dealing with the election according to Thai sports law."

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