Soccer-Worawi cancels news conference amid election row

By Amy Sawitta Lefevre

BANGKOK, July 5 (Reuters) – Under-fire FIFA executive committee member Worawi Makudi cancelled a news conference on Friday that he had scheduled to discuss the Thai Football Association presidential elections impasse.

“There is no press conference today, the president (Worawi) is busy. So we’ve decided to move the press conference to next week but I can’t say for sure what day,” Ongart Kosinka, secretary-general of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), told Reuters on Friday.

Worawi told Reuters earlier this week that ‘all would be revealed on Friday’ with regard to the election and controversial reforms he wanted to implement before going to the polls, a move that has seen him come under fire from top administrators and member clubs.

Worawi’s term as FAT president ended on June 16 but he cancelled the elections slated for the same day after failing to push through controversial FIFA-backed reforms that included slashing the number of eligible voters by more than half to 72.

Worawi said more discussions over the changes will take place on Aug. 8 with Sept. 23 the new election date.

That move has angered the majority of member clubs with 108 of the 179 signing a petition demanding the election takes place on July 23 or they will hold it themselves in early August.

The Sports Authority of Thailand said they are not against the reforms but have demanded Worawi holds the election this month in line with local law that states an election must take place within a month of an incumbent’s term ending.

It leaves the 61-year-old Worawi facing his biggest fight to retain power and the FAT in a messy situation ahead of high-profile matches friendly matches against European giants Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Worawi, though, is the great survivor of Asian soccer politics. He was one of the few confidants of former AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam to retain his standing with FIFA after the Qatari was banned for life for corruption and bribery in a doomed bid to become head of the world governing body.

Worawi, who lost to Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa in the Asian Football Confederation presidential elections in May, has also faced corruption charges in the past but successfully defended himself.

Soccer fan Pinit Ngarmpring and former national team manager Virach Charnpanich are standing against Worawi in the FAT elections. (Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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