August 26, 2012 00:00
By Kitinan Sanguansak
The seventh edition of Fifa Futsal World Cup in Thailand is at the risk of receiving the unwanted tag as the most poorly prepared tournament in terms of organisation following a flurry of negative stories.
Public may not have realised the extent of the problem, that left the quadrennial event in serious doubt, because most newspapers failed to report it due to the enormous influence the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) has over the local media.
Even though the problem is not as serious as that of India during the Commonwealth Games two years ago when a massive patch-up work was needed at the eleventh hour, it was still bad enough and one wonders how the sport’s governing body, the Fifa, has allowed it to happen.
Had it occurred in a country like England, where the press enjoys genuine freedom, all hell would have been raised.
The tournament is due to kick off in November and believe it or not, the construction of one of the venues, the only one needed to build to host the games in the capital, is not yet finished. Roughly only two months are remaining and time is running out.
The mandarins are saying that construction would be finished in time before the event takes place in Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima because it is not such a giant structure like a football stadium for the World Cup. But, the question is why did it take so long to complete the building of compact size.
So the upshot is that it will be wise we Thais stop dreaming of hosting the Football World Cup. We are just not good enough because we are struggling to organise a smaller competition.
The funny thing is that Fifa has surprisingly preferred not to take any action against Thailand, not even a rap on the knuckles. That is the privilege you enjoy if you have a man sitting in the organisation’s executive committee. Vernon Manilal Fernando, the chairman of the organising committee for the Fifa Futsal World Cup 2012, even praised the country’s preparations when he attended the draw for the 24-team tournament on Friday.
The Sri Lankan, who declared himself as a close friend of Worawi Makudi, the FAT president and a member of Fifa executive committee, even went as far as saying it was going to be the best ever Futsal World Cup.
Ironically, the draw itself was not without a problem. Confusion reigned over the rules forcing the officials to have a revised draw. Four-time world champions Brazil were originally drawn alongside Asian winners Japan, Portugal and Colombia but the rules state that two teams from the same continent cannot be in the same group with the exception of Europe, which have seven teams participating.
The officials only became aware of the mistake after the initial draw was completed. After a delay of around ten minutes, the Fifa official, who conducted the draw, returned to the stage and explained the error that happened in the procedure before making a revised draw.
African champions Libya was then assigned to take the place of Colombia in the group in question, while the Colombians moved to a section which featured Russia, Solomon Islands and Guatemala.
There is still time for the local organising committee to ensure the event would be remembered for right reasons and they should be aware that the country’s reputation is riding on it as well.