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Thai Football Association Issues Apology, Promises Action Following SEA Games Disputes

PHNOM PENH: The Football Association of Thailand issues an official apology on May 17, following its national team’s unsportsmanlike displays at the 32nd SEA Games the previous day. In the football final of the SEA Games, Thailand lost to Indonesia 5-2. During the match, multiple disputes arose, one erupting in violence on the sidelines which resulted in the Thai goalkeeper and an Indonesian player being benched for the game.

Authorities had to break up the fight, which Indonesian coach Indra Sjafri said the Thai team instigated. "Thailand was the first to fire shots," 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," he said.

While Thai players were heard blaming the referee for their loss and for the fight, the association acknowledged its team’s “deficient performance” as the main cause. The statement went on to express the association’s “deepest regret” and apologize for the incident which occurred during the match, saying that it caused serious damage to the Thailand National Football Team as it was seen by fans around the world. Its apologies were specifically directed at Thai nationals and football fans, while the association promised that formal apologies would be issued to all organizations involved.

The FA Thailand then announced that a disciplinary committee would be established with the intent to gather facts and take appropriate action upon the team’s return to Thailand. They stressed that no protection or immunity would be granted to those found to be aggressors in the incident.

The statement made no mention of the disrespectful behaviour displayed after the game, which saw Thai defender Jonathan Khemdee throw his silver medal into the crowd in protest. The ASEAN Football page announced Khemdee would be retiring from the national team following the match.

Ultimately, the statement said, “football is inherently competitive which always results in a victor who finds fulfillment and a defeated side that must regroup and improve their skills and team for future competitions.” While the Indonesian team went home smiling with gold medals, it seems the Thai footballers have some recovering to do.

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