Thailand’s Worawi vows to challenge FIFA ban

Bangkok (AFP) – Former Thai football chief Worawi Makudi has vowed to push FIFA to lift its ban on him after an appeals court in Bangkok overturned his conviction for forgery. 

Worawi, who had a long and tumultuous tenure in charge of Thai football, was banned for five years by FIFA last year following his July 2015 conviction.

He was found guilty by a Thai court of forging documents during a re-election campaign as head of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT).

FIFA’s five-year ban was for both that conviction and for failing to cooperate with their own investigation. 

But on Friday, Thailand’s Appeals Court overturned the forgery conviction and the football club that made the initial complaint, Pattaya FC, said it would not take the case to the Supreme Court.

Speaking to AFP on Sunday, Worawi said FIFA had rushed their decision to ban him before he had exhausted all his legal appeals.

“They (FIFA) have to accept the decision from the (appeals) court,” he said. 

“I don’t know why they were so rushed to make a decision at that time because I told them to wait for our legal proceedings (to finish),” he added.

At a press conference on Friday, Worawi’s lawyer Narinpong Jinapak said he would file a case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport if FIFA refused to lift the ban.

“It has been proven that Worawi Makudi, the former president of the Football Association of Thailand, is not guilty as charged. He is clean,” he told reporters.

Worawi was a FIFA executive committee member for 18 years until May 2015 — including for its 2010 vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

A long-time ally of disgraced ex-FIFA chief Sepp Blatter, he had in the past faced down fraud and bribery allegations, as well as a petition by tens of thousands of football fans urging Thailand’s junta to kick him out.

After his conviction, a millionaire former Thai police chief won the election to head up Thai football. 

One of his first moves was to appoint the current police chief to head up Thailand’s top league sparking questions over how the country’s top serving officer would have enough time to do both jobs at once.

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