What do you do with a problem like Worawi?

sports September 23, 2012 00:00

By Kitinan Sanguansak


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No one is suffering a bigger headache at the moment than Football Association of Thailand president Worawi Makudi, following a flurry of allegations levelled against him in recent weeks.


It is not the first time the Thai FA boss’s name was linked either directly or indirectly to corruption. In fact, the controversy surrounding the FAT election last year, which Worawi eventually won, provided a measure of what was to come in his third term in office.
He cannot blame anyone than himself for the negative perception of his tenure among the public. The more accusations he faced the more his credibility was eroded. Rather than spending his time finding a way to improve football in the country, Worawi was busy trying to find answers or documents to shield himself from a series of accusations. The 60-year-old, who sits in the Fifa executive committee, had to make the unusual move of calling press conferences on two consecutive days last week to clear his name.
Even though he was able to offer some clarifications, there were lingering doubts about each of the three major cases he is currently involved in .
The most serious one was the parliamentary committee’s investigation into allegations that the association deliberately set up a Thai Premier League company as its profit-making arm. If found guilty, it could result in the FAT being disbanded since a sport body is barred from seeking profits under Thai law.
Worawi’s explanation seemed reasonable as he defended the setting up of the TPL company, which mainly organised the country’s top league, on the grounds of seeking revenue for the teams. He also contradicted a report that Worawi was the majority shareholder of the company.
The second case related to Fifa’s probe into an allegation last year that Worawi misused football development grants to build projects on land he personally owned. Even though world soccer’s governing body eventually cleared him of any wrongdoing, doubts remained on the ownership of the land, which Worawi claimed he had already donated to the FAT.
There was rumour that the FAT president still owned the land and had mortgaged it with a bank, prompting him to present the title deeds to the media. He insisted he no longer owned the land. His claims would have carried more weight had he backed it up with a document that showed the transfer of the land transaction.
The last case was a contract row with a South Korean company, Dae-an 21, in which Worawi was able to give the clearest answer to the accusation of alleged embezzlement. Under a four-year contract that was signed in April 2007 and expired in March last year, the FAT handed the Koreans the right to oversee its marketing activities and received money in return.
He staunchly denied Dae-an’s allegation that the money the Koreans transferred went into his personal account. He even presented a former director of the Korean company as his witness.
Worawi insisted he did nothing wrong and that it was the Koreans who failed to honour the contract after they made only two payments. 
However, the question was why no one knew about such a contract until it came to light when Dae-an sued Worawi last month.
Worawi might have felt relieved after steering his way through the crises successfully but he must be aware of the danger of falling under his own sword.

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