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FIFA suspension could hit exhibition games

Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Worawi Makudi has warned Thailand may not be able to host the coming exhibition matches featuring four European clubs - including English and Spanish league champions Manchester United and Barcelona - if Fifa suspends the Thai FA's membership.

The world soccer governing body threatened to suspend the association following the cancellation of the FAT meeting on Saturday as a result of an injunction issued by Min Buri Court.

Fifa regarded the court move, which followed a suit by Thai club Pattaya FC, as a breach of its rules and has demanded the fourth-tier team to withdraw the suit against the association by Monday - otherwise the country could face suspension.

The court order has prevented FAT from holding a vote to approve its revised regulations in accordance with Fifa's new statutes. The Thai club feared the vote might result in the reduction of the number of members eligible to vote for a new president.

Incumbent Worawi's third consecutive two-year mandate expired on Sunday.

Worawi was asked yesterday whether a Fifa suspension would have an impact on the four exhibition matches starting with Manchester United against Singha All Stars team on July 13. Worawi wore a grim face and said he was afraid it might.

"I don't want to speculate on the consequences of a possible sanction. But Fifa stated the suspension would prevent us from having international contact. I assume it includes everything. [If our] association gets suspended, nobody would want to get involved." he said.

Contacted by The Nation, Singha Corporation, which plans to stage both the Man United fixture and the Chelsea v Singha All Stars match on July 17 to mark its 80th Anniversary, declined to comment. Tickets for both games are soldout.

In regard to Pattaya's lawsuit, FAT lawyer Veera Khammee revealed the association had sent Fifa's letter to the Pattaya club. They would then report to the sport's governing body on how they were dealing with the matter.

Fifa also insisted the FAT must adopt its revised statutes and only then can the presidential election take place, which must not be later than the end of September. Failure to do so could mean Thailand facing possible sanctions as well.


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