Thailand could lose the right to be host of the Asian Cup
Thailand is at risk of forfeiting its right to host next year's Asian Cup after the government struggled to provide a budget for stadium renovation.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) cried foul over the delays with Thailand's preparations for the quadrennial tournament, especially the work on renovating the two main stadiums - Rajamangala National Stadium and Suphachalasai Stadium - following the AFC representatives' site visit, led by secretary-general Peter Velapan earlier this month.
Regional football's governing body has set a deadline of January 15 for Thailand to improve the facilities and prove their commitment to staging Asia's most prestigious tournament, which will be co-hosted by Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia next year.
Saktip Krailork, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, said after meeting concerned parties including officials from the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), that the government needed an additional Bt20 million for the renovation work at Rajamangala National Stadium.
"We initially set up a Bt29 million budget to refurbish the Rajamangala Stadium, but we need Bt20 million more to replace the bleachers with seats following the architect's advise as the stadium is originally not designed for all-seated venue. Coupled with Bt11 million for the Suphachalasai Stadium, we need a total budget of Bt60 million."
Saktip added that the meeting resolved to have the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) prepare documents for the government's consideration, requesting money from the budget set up for next year's University Games to provide the additional funds to renovate both stadiums.
The meeting asked Worawi Makudi, the FAT's secretary-general, to contact the AFC and ask them to extend the deadline to April 15 and confirm Thailand is ready to host the event.