Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Pundits suggest spending more on local game

Real Madrid ended its whirlwind tour of Asia and restored credibility on the field with a 3-0 win over Thailand's SEA Games side at Rajamangala National Stadium last Friday. In a sense, the Bangkok Post recorded, the match "was their most successful stop because the 65,000-capacity Rajamangala was almost full while three earlier games in China and Japan had a large number of empty seats".

However the Spanish club remained heavily criticised in the region for their "money-spinning" attitude and were accused of not trying hard enough to give value for money in certain matches.

"It seemed that they came to Bangkok to grab a reported appearance fee of 70 million baht before leaving. They arrived in Bangkok on Thursday evening and rushed home right after the match. Apart from the clash against Thailand, meeting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and taking part in sponsors' activities, they did nothing to help promote the sport or please their loyal fans," the Bangkok Post remarked.

The man who gained most from Friday's match was Phayap Shinawatra. He was the chairman of the organising committee and paid to bring Real Madrid here.

Despite being Prime Minister Thaksin's brother and an MP for Chiang Mai, Phayap was relatively unknown at national level until his name was linked to Real Madrid. Thanks to the success, Phayap is considering bringing England to play a friendly.

As England are more popular than Real Madrid, Phayap could become more well-known if his plan is successful. It is reported that he may have to invest something in the region of 100m baht to lure England to Thailand.

If Phayap really loves football - and this is not only an attempt to seek political gain - then he should also help fund a new expanded Thailand League. That needs an annual budget of 20 million baht.

The Thai squad's performance against Real Madrid was widely hailed and Prime Minister Thaksin praised the players and coach Charnwit Pholcheewin on a national radio network. Speaking in his weekly programme on Radio Thailand on Saturday, the prime minister said the national team had improved and he praised the players' determination and hard work on the pitch.

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