Umaid Wasim – DAWN
ISLAMABAD: He expressed with deep joy that he didn’t feel unsafe in Pakistan.
Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Worawi Makudi on Thursday assured Pakistan of continued support in the game of football, saying he’d even bring Thailand’s national team for a friendly against Pakistan.
“Without a doubt, if need arises to prove Pakistan is safe for sport, I’ll bring my national team here,” Makudi told Dawn in an interview on the sidelines of the SAFF Women’s Championship.
International sport has remained suspended in Pakistan since the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009. But organization of the SAFF Women’s Championship, which featured eight regional teams, may prove to be the ice-breaker.
“I feel perfectly safe here,” Makudi said. “The organization of this event shows that Pakistan can host international sport.”
He stressed Thailand were ready to help Pakistan in boosting the game in the country. “FAT and Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) enjoy very good relations,” Makudi said. “Pakistan can come to Thailand to play a friendly match anytime they want or train there as well.”
Makudi once ran against Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa for the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
But almost 18 months after finishing second to the current chief of Asian football, he is all out in support of the Bahraini.
“I, and we all members of the AFC, are fully behind Sheikh Salman,” Makudi told Dawn in an interview on Thursday on the sidelines of the SAFF Women’s Championship. “Asia needs to show unity,” he added. “We’ve to rally behind him and make him more powerful.”
Unity amongst Asia is crucial considering the turmoil in FIFA regarding the awarding of hosting rights to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.
The Sunday Times named a number of Asian countries in a wide-ranging investigation into bribery for the Qatar vote.
FIFA cleared the “bidding process” for the vote but has since filed a criminal case against “unnamed individuals” relating to the Qatar election.
“Football has become very politicized,” Makudi said. “Everyone has his own agenda. Mixing politics in football isn’t nice as it creates an unpleasant situation with lots of wrongdoing and allegations.”
Leading the calls for wrongdoing within FIFA is England’s Football Association (FA).
Makudi, himself, has bore the brunt of FA’s wrath who accused him of corruption in the lead-up to the vote for the 2018 World Cup — in which England were in the running but was eventually won by Russia.
Makudi was cleared of all allegations. “I believe there is no point in making all sort of noises without having proof,” he said. “If the English have the proof, they should prove it to the world.”
Published in Dawn, November 21th, 2014