Thai ex-top cop picks police chief to run premier league
Bangkok (AFP) –
Thailand's ex-top cop, now "anti-corruption" head of the country's football association, announced Friday that his successor at the police force would also run the kingdom's premier league firm.
Somyot Poompanmoung, the pugnacious multi-millionaire who led Thailand's police force until his retirement last September, was elected earlier this month to lead the Football Association of Thailand as an anti-corruption and fairness candidate.
Somyot told reporters that the person succeeding him as national police chief would also become president of the Premier League of Thailand company, which runs the country's top two divisions.
"You might wonder who will be the new president of the Premier League of Thailand company … it's police general Chakthip Chaijinda," Somyot said.
It was unclear how Chakthip would balance the two roles -- or how his skill set as a crime-buster applied to the football job.
Thai football was for years sullied by graft allegations under the stewardship of scandal-swept Worawi Makudi -- once a FIFA stalwart who is currently suspended from the game over an alleged ethical breach.
Somyot, 61, had the backing of big Thai football clubs as well as his friend Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the billionaire owner of table-topping English Premier League outfit Leicester, in his election bid.
Straight-talking Somyot has vowed to clean up the sport, allocate funds fairly, raise refereeing standards and boost the quality of the Thai game.
On Friday he also urged Thai football fans to put their cash into a bank account to support the national team's bid to reach the next World Cup.
In an unusual direct appeal for financial help, Somyot said the funds would "allow everyone to be a part-owner of the Thai team".
Somyot, who was appointed after a 2014 coup, has been tipped to pursue a career in politics once elections have been restored to the military-run country.
His predecessor Worawi, a long-time ally of the shamed and suspended FIFA chief Sepp Blatter, has remained uncharacteristically silent since being sidelined by the election.
While heading the FAT Worawi faced down fraud and bribery allegations, as well as a petition by tens of thousands of football fans urging Thailand's junta to kick him out.
© 2016 AFP