The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) have handed lengthy bans to two players, two officials, and a coach following last week’s farcical scenes in Phnom Penh as Thailand U-22 lost 5-2 to Indonesia U-22 in the 2023 SEA Games final.
Goalkeeper Soponwit Rakyart – who was sent-off in the aftermath of the extra-time brawl after he had subjected Indonesia’s Komang Teguh to a diving punch – as well as unused sub Teerapak Pruengna were given six month bans, while a goalkeeping coach and two officials of the Thailand under-22 national team were given one year bans from all footballing activities.
Both Teerasak Poeiphimai and Jonathan Khemdee, who were also sent-off during the final, escaped any further punishment from the FAT as their dismissals came after the brawl, although Khemdee did receive the condemnation from the entire Southeast Asian region following his disrespectful act of throwing his silver medal and his present from the Cambodian hosts to the stands during the post-match medal ceremony.
“The fact-finding team agreed unanimously that as adults, the goalkeeping coach and team officials should be mature enough to control the situation and set a good example for the players, who are aged under 22,” said a statement from the FAT, “They should not lead or take part in the incident.”
The FAT added that both Soponwit and Teerapak avoided heavier punishment due to their “young age” and “being under match pressure and have subsequently apologized.”
With the SEA Games final brawl going viral outside of Southeast Asia, many in both Indonesia and Thailand condemned the violence that had occurred, especially at the latter as the incident has brought great shame to the Land of Smiles. Thai senior goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan was one such person, with the Muangthong United goalie openly criticizing and slamming his juniors’ conduct to the media.
“I, as a national team player and part of the Thai football industry, would like to comment on this incident. If it hurt someone, I’m sorry,” said Kawin, “Controlling emotions and expressing maturity are qualities that footballers have, because we go on behalf of the Thai national team. To be the representative and pride of the Thai people. Not only in matters of winning and losing, but also being a good example. And what’s even bigger is that people come to see it. It means they respect us.”