Thai FA bans players, officials over football final brawls
BANGKOK – Thai football on Tuesday handed out lengthy bans to two players, two officials and a coach over the brawls that marred the men’s final at the SEA Games.
Indonesia beat Thailand 5-2 in extra time in Phnom Penh on May 16 but the match degenerated into violence as players and staff from both sides clashed on the touchline.
Thailand had three players sent off as they failed to capture a record-extending 17th gold medal.
The Thai FA apologised and promised a swift investigation and, on Tuesday, announced a one-year ban from the national team for a goalkeeping coach and two team officials.
“The fact-finding team agreed unanimously that as adults, the goalkeeping coach and team officials should be mature enough to control the situation and set a good example for the players, who are aged under 22,” the Thai FA said in a statement. “They should not lead or take part in the incident.”
Men’s football at the biennial SEA Games is played between Under-23 sides.
Goalkeeper Soponwit Rakyart – who was red-carded after he ran half the length of the pitch to deliver a diving punch – was banned from the national team for six months. Substitute Teerapak Pruengna was also given a six-month ban.
“While they took part in the incident, they were under match pressure and have apologised, and they are young – reasons to decrease their penalty,” the Thai FA added.
Indonesia went into the final hoping to restore pride following a deadly stadium disaster and the loss of hosting the Under-20 World Cup. And the victory gave them their first gold in football since 1991, 10 years before the competition became an age-group event.
But the match will be remembered for the chaotic scenes that erupted in the 98th minute when Thailand scored to make it 2-2 and force extra time.
Thai officials celebrated by running to the Indonesian bench, prompting the first melee, and there was more trouble when Indonesia retook the lead early in extra time.
“Both sides are glad when they score but we need to control ourselves and we weren’t able to control everyone,” Thai coach Issara Sritaro had said in the immediate aftermath of the match.
Windsor John, secretary-general of the Asian Football Confederation, told AFP it was up to the SEA Games Federation to take further action. “I believe the match officials did their best to control the situation,” he added. - AFP