Star midfielder concerned about downfall of Thai football

By Trung Thu   July 12, 2023 | 03:23 pm PT
Star midfielder concerned about downfall of Thai football
Midfielder Chanathip Sọngkrasin plays for BG Pathum United. Photo by BG Pathum United
Midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin criticized the disunity that is blocking the development and threatening to ruin Thai football at the club level.

Songkrasin said that without solidarity, Thai football would not be able to develop.

"The lack of unity appears in many places, from the government, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) and the Football Federation of Thailand (FAT)," Chanathip said at a press conference of his new club BG Pathum United on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old star took the Rajamangala National Stadium, which he considers the mecca of Thai football as an example.

"My father told me that only the national team can play in Rajamangala. But nowadays this place hosts concerts and friendlies for foreign clubs like Manchester United, while the national team don't play matches anymore. Is this development?" Songkrasin said.

Thai football has experienced many unfavorable changes in the past month. FAT president Somyot Poompanmoung resigned on July 1 at the decision of Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and President of Thailand’s National Olympic Committee. However, FAT council did not accept this and suggested that Poompanmoung continue to hold the position until the end of his term in February 2024 to avoid being investigated by FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for political influence.

In addition, the professional football league system of Thailand suffered a big decline in television royalties, from 300 million baht last season down to 50 million baht next season. Domestic clubs are being recommended to manage the league themselves, instead of having a proper organizer.

"Personally, I think the big clubs will survive because they have the money," Songkrasin said. "It’s a different story for small clubs. Players there are not getting paid."

After seven years of playing in Japan for Consadole Sapporo and Kawasaki Frontale, Songkrasin returned to Thailand and joined BG Pathum United for a fee of $2 million - the second-biggest transfer in Thai League history.

Songkrasin is considered the best attacking midfielder in the history of Thai football and is currently the country’s number one player. He has won two SEA Games gold medals and three AFF Cup titles with Thailand.

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