Thailand and Indonesia were barred from all international soccer by Asian soccer’s governing body on Friday following a farcical match in last month’s Tiger Cup in Vietnam.
Both had initially been fined $40,000 by the ASEAN Football Federation, the regional South East Asian body, after Indonesia scored a deliberate own goal to give Thailand a 3-2 victory in a group match both seemed determined to lose.
“I hope it (the ban) would not affect Thailand’s participation in the Asian Games. With fingers crossed, it might be a yellow card, lasting only a month,” Withaya, who quit along with the entire Thai management team after the match, told Reuters.
Bangkok is hosting the 13th Asian Games in December.
AFC general secretary Peter Velappan said in Kuala Lumpur on Friday the ban on international friendly and competitive matches for both nations would last until the issue was reviewed by the AFC executive committee in Lebanon on October 23.
The controversial match in Ho Chi Minh City on August 31 took place after both teams had previously said they did not want to win and face hosts Vietnam in the semifinals.
Velappan said: “It was a case of deliberate match fixing by Indonesia and Thailand and this match brought gross disrepute to the game of football and also to the image of Asian football.”
The Bangkok Post said in an editorial: “The ban has given the Thai soccer authorities a much needed boot up the backside and hopefully they will learn from this painful lesson.
“Hopefully out of the ban will emerge a fresh approach from Thai soccer authorities. We want a team that can hold up their heads in pride and say ‘we did our best’ whatever the result.”
Ex-coach Withaya, a celebrated ace in the Thai national team in the 1970s and 1980s before he played professional soccer in Germany and Japan, was repentant but pleaded for understanding.
“I really regret what has happened…but it is a normal tactic for soccer teams to try everything to get themselves to advance as far as possible in a tournament. This is a lesson for us,” he said.