Editorial by Webmaster
As you've probably already read on this website, Korat have been deducted nine points for fielding an ineligible player. Second-choice goalkeeper Kiattisak Lertwilai played against Chaiyaphum (home) and Kalasin (away) and was on the bench for the Udon Thani home match. As such, Korat have been deducted three points for each match.
For a Korat fan, it is of course a bitter, jagged, gut-wrechingly nauseating pill to swallow. The team are unbeaten this season and looked likely to make it to the play-offs, probably through one of the best third-placed slots, although a second-place finish was still in their hands. Not anymore though. The home match against Loei in a fortnight's time, one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures of the season that could have seen Korat climb into second place, will now be a horribly hollow affair. If the nine point penalty stands, then the team would probably have to win all of their remaining ten games to make it to the play-offs: not going to happen, the team isn't good enough. If the appeal is successful and the punishment is reduced to six points, then Korat would still have to win maybe eight of the remaining ten to have a hope of making it to the play-offs. Very difficult considering those ten matches include home games against Loei and Surin, and away matches at Roiet and Yasothon.
But of the punishment itself: should Korat feel hard done by? As painful as it is, a three point deduction for fielding an ineligible player is a standard punishment throughout world football (unless you're Pattaya United. The Dolphins meagre punishment for fielding an ineligible player in 2009 was having their coach serve a two-match touchline ban!). There are however five questions that we feel the Regional League needs to answer to give fans peace of mind.
1) Why has it taken nearly four weeks of investigation to arrive at a conclusion which was apparently obvious to Chaiyaphum coach Chukiat Noosarung on the 9th of July?
2) Why have punishments been handed out for the Kalasin and Udon games?
That the player was ineligible for those games is now not in doubt. But as the RL have said themselves, for an ineligible-player-complaint to be investigated a complaint has to be made and a 10,000-baht-deposit submitted. Chukiat only complained about Kiattisak's appearance in the Chaiyaphum game, and the coach himself was only expecting Korat to be deducted three points. Neither Udon nor Kalasin have filed complaints nor submitted a deposit, and at no point in the RL's many press releases on the matter was it suggested that any other games were under investigation.
3) What is the Regional League's view on comments made during the investigation by Chukiat Noosarung?
Should an official complaint about an ineligible player be made through the medium of a post-match interview? And should the complainant state what punishment the governing body should hand out? Not once but twice since the Chaiyaphum game, coach Chukiat Noosaraung has firmly stated that he is expecting Korat to be deducted three points and his side awarded a 2-0 win and three points. In many other countries such comments would be viewed as attempts at influencing the outcome of the case.
4) Which is the more serious offence?
If Korat broke the rules then they should be punished. But there is no suggestion of any deliberate deviousness or impropriety in Korat's case, just an administrative mistake; an oversight. However, ordering your team to cease playing and leave the field of play during a match is deliberate and improper; it also contravenes section 12.28.7 of the Laws of the Game. But yet again we have seen a team walk off the pitch recently. At the weekend, Loei walked off against Surin (the second time they've walked off in nine months) and, of course, Chukiat infamously ordered his team from the pitch against Korat last year. The punishment for this outrageous behaviour? There isn't one.
When will the authorities ever get tough on this issue which is a blight on Thai football and a genuine problem?
5) What is being done to investigate other transfers?
Other than the Pattaya case, I can't recall a single other incidence of a club being punished for fielding an ineligible player in the five or so years that I've been following Thai league football. Has every single transfer in that time – thousands and thousands of them – been legitimate and above board? An impossible proposition for those that know how business operates in Thailand. Korat were just the unlucky ones: Chukiat got a tip off about the player, held onto the information until the game was over (we probably wouldn't have heard anything about it had Chaiyaphum won the game) and then acted on that information. I'm certain that there are coaches, managers, chairmen and presidents throughout Thai football that are thinking "There but for the grace of god go I".
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