PHNOM PENH: The Thai national football team, which represents a population of more than 70 million people, created a scene at the National Olympic Stadium of Cambodia by beating members of the Indonesian national football team and subsequently throwing away their medals after losing the match.
The incident took place on May 16 during the final night of the 32nd SEA Games, when a dispute erupted following a goal scored by Indonesia. Indonesia coach Indra Sjafri said the violence was provoked by the Thai side after the Indonesian players ran to celebrate the goal in front of the Thai coach.
"Thailand was the first to set fire," he said, “[Earlier] The Thais ran to celebrate in front of the Indonesian side as they drew 2-2. Later, when Indonesia scored again, my team ran to celebrate in front of the Thai side, they started the violence. I do not support the gestures of my team. Sports should be more beautiful."
The violence had to be broken up by the authorities and the Thai goalie and an Indonesian player were both expelled from the game following the incident. By the end of the match, the players had garnered the most yellow and red card fouls in the history of the SEA Games with seven red and 12 yellow cards being deployed. Indonesia won the gold with a score of 5-2.
The unsportsmanlike behaviour from the Thai team did not end there, however. At the end of the match, Thai defender Jonathan Khemdee threw his silver medal into the crowd and accused the referee of mistaken calls during the match. He also blamed the referee for the fight during the match, saying, "Many mistakes [from the] referee [who] could not control the game. That’s why we fought." According to the ASEAN Football page, Khemdee has since announced he will retire from the Thai football team following the embarrassing display.
The Indonesian national football team brought home the gold for the first time since 1991. Despite the problems on the field, the Indonesian footballers went to sleep that night with a gold medal, hugging an official SEA Games' stuffed mascot, according the Football Association of Indonesia.