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Sports Notes -Thailand's FAT Suspend Coach Peter Withe - Cambodian Football

Thailand squad celebrates after defeating South Korea in 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok. Michelle Branch sang it will Thai football live it after coach Peter Withe's suspension? "Are You Happily Now?"

James Loving - National Radio Text Service


Reasons given for the suspension were Withe, 52, had poor results against the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in Olympic qualifying matches. Thailand lost 4-1 in Dubai and could only manage a 1-1 draw in Bangkok. The results were also said to have upset fans and sponsors.


Friday September 26, 2003

SAY WHAT!!!???

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) suspended head coach Peter Withe. Withe had less than two months remaining on his contract that ends in November. He will be paid 1.2 million baht ($29,500) to sit out the remaining two months of his contract. Reasons given for the suspension were Withe, 52, had poor results against the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in Olympic qualifying matches. Thailand lost 4-1 in Dubai and could only manage a 1-1 draw in Bangkok. The results were also said to have upset fans and sponsors. FAT president Vijitr Getkaew was upset the Englishman didn't report to him after Thailand's loss to UAE in Dubai. Getkaew said he had been disappointed in Withe's behavior after the first-leg match in the UAE.

"Peter should have reported to me after the first match about everything that happened,'' the Bangkok Post reported Getkaew as saying. ``But he did not come and report to me at all. This means that he was not interested in the result. When he comes back to Thailand, I have told secretary-general Worawi Makudi to find some suitable work for him. I think he may work as an instructor in coaching."

At the time of his dismissal Withe was at his vacation home in Perth, Australia and Makudi was in Los Angeles, California (USA) for the women's World Cup.

Getkaew went on to say: "We decided to change from Peter Withe to Carlos (Carlos Roberto Carvalho) because we did not do well in the Olympic qualifying round. We cannot accept the bad result against the UAE so we decided to bring in Carlos and suspend Withe as head coach. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra wants to see the Thai team go to the World Cup finals so we must try our best to reach this target.''

The Bangkok Post also reported that Thai-language newspapers speculated before the match that he would be axed if Thailand were eliminated from the Olympic competition. Members of the FAT were after Withe's scalp for three years. Prior to the 2000 Tiger Cup when he was in the last year of a three-year contract complaints surfaced. The Thais complained that they weren't happy with the way he dressed. It was as if they hired a fashion model rather than a football coach.

The complaints were published in Thai language papers and not originally in English language papers. Withe skated on thin ice from that point on. He on to lead Thailand to win the Tiger Cup. The squad made an impressive showing in the World Cup Qualifiers. He then took a pay cut to sign a new deal with the FAT in January 2002. The FAT left him without an offer for three months. They complained they didn't have any money to pay the coach.

Withe became coach in October 1998 after the Thai squad cowardly tried to throw a Tiger Cup match against Indonesia. At that point Withe turned a losing program around within two months of his arrival. In December 1998 they had an impressive fourth place finish in the Asian Games including a thrilling golden goal victory against then World Cup participants South Korea while playing with only nine men. They followed with a win over Arsenal and a close 2-1 loss to Manchester United. The younger Thai squad suffered a tough 2-1 loss at the hands of Real Madrid in August. They went from quitters to competitors within 60 days of Withe's arrival.

Thavatchai Sajakul was the team manager when Withe arrived in 1998. He left after Thailand defeated Arsenal to become a member of parliament. At that time he said Withe was the right man for the job. He returned last year and stripped Withe from choosing what players or coaches he would work with. The FAT then hired Brazilian coaches to assist Withe. That was the first sign that Withe's authority was being undermined. Sajakul picked the squad that Withe had the coach.

The focus was on new unproved young talent that didn't' have the winning chemistry the older squad had. It was at that point the Thai squad started to slide. When Withe picked the players they won, when Sajakul undertook the duties side lost its winning ways.

The new coach Carvalho has been given the authority to pick the team that will participate as defending champions in this years SEA Games and the forthcoming Asian Cup qualifying round. The staff coaches will remain the same including longtime coach Chatchai Pholphae. Team manager Sajakul and his deputy manager Virach Chanpanich would retain their positions. The Bangkok Post reported that they have been ordered to be more careful about the news, which is released to the media.

Withe has taken Thailand to Tiger Cup victories in 2000 and 2002. Withe's squads won two SEA Games championships in 1999 and 2003 (he did not coach the 2001 championship squad). He also led them to consecutive semifinals of the Asian Games and the final qualifying rounds of the World Cup. That feat was the first time Thailand had achieved such success.

The questions are where are the Thais ethics and integrity? Why fire a coach who turned cowards into respectful competitors on the pitch? The biggest problem is the Thai's feel justified in their actions.

You could argue that their values are much different than that in the western world. You could also hold the opinion that the Thais demand respect but don't know how to give it. You could also argue that the Thai's are ungrateful and don't appreciate what one has done for them.


The UAE advanced to the final round of Asian qualifying for the Olympics. Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon, Iran, Kuwait, Japan and Malaysia also qualified. Twelve teams from Asia will compete for three places at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Thailand's next major competition is the Asian Cup qualifying against Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Hong Kong in November and the SEA Games in Vietnam in December.


Former Cambodian nation team coach Joachim Fickert was in Phnom Penh earlier in the month. He visited Vietnam and was given an offer to coach a new club team. Fickert has returned to Germany to consider the offer.


FIFA has not approved the quality of the pitch at the Cambodian Football Federation's practice facility. The turf doesn't drain properly and is made of poor quality materials.

Final payment will be withheld until corrected. FIFA donated a million dollars over a four-year period to build the pitch and CFF offices.



After the Brazil/Thailand match Thai coach PETER WITHE noted that the Brazil team is worth BILLIONS [of Thai baht] and that some of his players go to universities and have regular jobs. He also noted that the Brazil players have been playing the game since they were eight years old and have virtually nothing else to think about but soccer. They play full time and are strong and in great shape from playing all year round.

He also said that his players were excited about playing the world's number one team. The Englishman related how excited he was when he first played against Brazil. Despite the drubbing the Thai coach said he was proud of the way his team played and that they gave 110%.


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