Saturday, February 03, 2007

Kicking Off

No, not Italian football, but a report from our man in Bangkok, Dr. Knot:

Not sure if it's been shown back home or not, but there is a tournament going on out here called the ASEAN cup, and Thailand and Singapore are in the two-legged final, (not sure if it was planned in advance or not, but the two legs of the final are being played in Singapore and Thailand.)

Just for a bit of back ground info, the previous prime minister (Thaksin) sold the main telephone company to a Singaporean company before he was overthrown last year, and now the government wants the company back and is trying to put all sorts of pressure on Singapore; it's causing a lot of hostility between the two countries, but there's no fear of any trouble because Malayasia is in between the two countries for about 800 miles and the Thai Navy can't afford the fuel to sail that far south and the Singapore airforce doesn't have the range to hit any targets in Thailand, so it's all a bit of handbags at 10 paces. One of the consequences is that every phone call in Thailand goes via Singapore, and Thai companies fear their conversations are being monitored as Singapore consortiums are buying up profitable Thai companies.

The first leg was played on Wednesday night, nothing spectacular in the game: Singapore rightly won the game 2-1, although the winning goal was a disputed penalty 8 minutes from time. As soon as Sinagapore scored, the Thai team walked off for 15 minutes in a huff before resuming the match.

The reaction in the Thai papers has the government pleading with Thai workers not to get into disputes if they work for any Singapore companies, and not to walk out. The Thai tourist minister has said that the safety of Singapore fans cannot be guaranteed before during and after the match, and they should move around in groups (or gangs).

The second leg is at a stadium in Bangkok on Sunday. If I can get a ticket I'll be off to it, (VIP seats 300 BHT - approx £4.20). The only snag is that the stadium only holds 30,000 people, so I might not be able to get a ticket.

But I've not felt the tension in the air like this for a football match for ages, its great!



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