Unfinished Bangkok arena forces FIFA to move Futsal World Cup

PHUKET: Organizers of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012 have announced a revision of the match schedule, citing severe weather conditions delaying the construction of the event’s main facility, the 12,000-seat Bangkok Futsal Arena (BFA).

Five group matches – mostly involving Thailand’s Group A – initially scheduled to be played at the yet-to-be-completed facility, are now set to be played at the Indoor Stadium Huamark, also in Bangkok, instead.

The contingency revision comes just weeks ahead of the kickoff of the seventh edition of the sport’s most prestigious tournament, held once every four years.

The FIFA Futsal Committee on Friday made the decision in conjunction with the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

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The BFA will now host its first matches on Wednesday, November 14, during the final round.

Construction at the site was initially delayed as a consequence of the heavy rains early in October that crippled parts of the city and resulted in severe flooding.

The BMA had planned to hand over the Bangkok Futsal Arena on 21 October, but another period of heavy rain in recent weeks – which has once again caused flooding in many parts of Bangkok, has slowed down the final stages of construction.

With meteorologists currently also monitoring both a typhoon and a tropical storm in the region, the decision to provide more time for the completion of the BFA has been taken to ensure the safety of construction workers on-site.

This delay will ensure that the new facility is completed and ready for two of the quarterfinal matches and both semifinals as well as the match for third place and final to be hosted on Sunday, November 18.

Anyone who has bought tickets for the three double-header group matches, as well as for the round-of-16 match initially scheduled to be played at the Bangkok Futsal Arena, can exchange these by contacting cs@thaiticketmajor.com by email, or via the call center by telephone on: +66 (0)2-2623555.

A final decision on the readiness of the arena will be taken by FIFA by October 25.

With hosts Thailand, currently ranked 11th in the world, pitted in Group A with strong teams such as Ukraine (8th), Paraguay (9th) and Costa Rica (21st), there is a good chance that the War Elephants will not be the first to break the new facility in, and may not get to play in it at all during the event.

In addition to the 6,000-seat Indoor Stadium Huamak and BFA, matches will also be played at the 5,000-seat Nimitbutr Stadium in Bangkok and 5,000-seat Korat Chatchai Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima province.

Hosted for the first time in Thailand, the tournament will also be the first edition that 24 teams in six groups of four will compete; last year’s tournament in Brazil featured 20 teams divided into five groups of four, with the five editions prior to that comprising four groups of four teams.

The Phuket Gazette will bring daily, exclusive coverage and updates of the event.

To view the full match schedule, click here.

— Steven Layne

Phuket News
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