FAT’s reluctance surprising
Three northern clubs from the lower tiers of domestic leagues had an emergency meeting on Wednesday with the main agenda being a plea for a delay in resumption of footballing activities because of the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the country.
Officials from Thai League 2 side Chiangmai United and bottom-tier Lamphun Warriors and Maejo United teams then sought a minimum extension of one month to the restart of the leagues, which was then set for April 18 by the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) and Thai League Co.
The worrying part of this development is that if there was any need for these three clubs to meet and issue the call through media at all?
With the 2020 Olympics and Euro 2020 all moved to next year and the number of new coronavirus victims hitting the triple-figure almost everyday in Thailand, the FAT should have extended the shutdown much earlier.
The decision to postpone the Olympics was widely welcomed by sporting bodies and athletes but with an obvious touch of sadness.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) finally made up its mind on Tuesday after speaking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and local organisers, and with it ended the weeks-long will-they-or-won’t-they uncertainty.
The foot-dragging by the IOC and the Japanese organisers did cause a lot of uncertainty and anxiety among those preparing for the Games, but in the end common sense prevailed.
And surprisingly the FAT also opted to take the same wait-and-see route before an emergency imposed by the Thai government forced its hand and the resumption of all four leagues was put off until May 2.
The start of the futsal league has also been deferred to May 9-10.
Even until a couple of days before the imposition of state of emergency, FAT president Somyot Poompunmuang was being quoted in the Thai media expressing hope that Thai leagues matches would resume on April 18 “behind closed doors”.
Prior to that, the only reports coming out of the FAT headquarters suggested that Thailand national team coach Akira Nishino was planning to observe players while they train at the respective clubs.
The time for having a training camp for national team probables is long gone as the Covid-19 situation in the country has changed drastically.
Announcing its initial decision of postponing all domestic matches “for the safety of the people and those involved in football” until April 18 in the first week of March, the FAT said if the situation changed and matches have to be further postponed, the FAT would inform all parties concerned by March 31.
The situation, in fact, took a turn for the worse a long while ago and there was no need for the FAT to wait for the stipulated March 31 deadline.
If that had been done, it wouldn’t have come to a stage where lower-tier clubs had to stage a press conference to call for an action by the FAT.