Srettha enters football flap, suggests 2 candidates to replace Somyot
Srettha Thavisin, one of the three prime ministerial candidates of the Pheu Thai Party, has suggested two candidates to become the next president of the Football Association of Thailand: a billionaire and a former finance minister.
Billionaire Nualphan “Madam Pang” Lamsam – the manager of Thailand’s national men’s football team and chairwoman of Port Football Club – and Kittiratt Na-Ranong – former finance minister and former manager of the national football team – are suitable replacements for Somyot Poompanmoung, he said on Saturday.
“I feel there are growing calls for a change [of association leadership]. Many football players also have come out [to call for leadership change],” Srettha explained.
Nualphan has been in the country’s football circles for many years, while many people are also calling for Kittiratt to become the association’s new president.
Somyot Poompanmoung stepped down as president of the association on Saturday following mounting pressure to resign.
On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who is also chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand, called for Somyot to take responsibility for the poor performance of the national football team.
Prawit also pointed to the brawl that erupted during the finals at the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia, which Thailand lost to Indonesia.
Players and staff of both teams were involved in a scuffle, which Prawit described as “very embarrassing and damaging to Thailand’s reputation”.
Somyot said on Saturday that he decided to step down as the association's president to comply with Prawit’s wish.
Srettha said earlier on Saturday – before Somyot stepped down – that he deserved fair treatment, explaining that the problems in Thai football should not be blamed on him alone.
Srettha also expressed concern about political interference in football, noting that many Thai football clubs are owned by politicians. He suggested, however, that this was a necessary evil.
“We have to admit that they go together. Without political involvement, it’s difficult for football to grow. But the team managers have to bear in their mind the ultimate goal is further development of football in Thailand,” he said.