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Worawi not looking at return after ban revoked by CAS

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BANGKOK (AP) Former FIFA executive Worawi Makudi is focusing on Thailand’s general election next month rather than a return to football after he overturned a ban from football for unproven forgery.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday revoked a 3 1/2-year ban imposed by FIFA for alleged wrongdoing during a Football Association of Thailand election.

Worawi, the Thailand football president from 2007-15, has entered politics and is No. 3 on the party list of Prachachart Party in the March 24 election.

“I feel delighted and thankful for the justice the Court of Arbitration for Sport has given me,” the 67-year-old Worawi said on Tuesday.

He added any involvement in sport, for now, would be dictated by the policies of his party. He was in no hurry to return to Thai football.

“Actually, I’m always ready and willing to work in the area of sports for the community at large. But I haven’t thought about running for the presidency of the Football Association of Thailand yet.”

Worawi was accused of altering Thai soccer statutes before his 2013 presidential re-election campaign. He was a FIFA executive committee member for 18 years until being voted out by Asian member federations in 2015.

CAS reduced Worawi’s punishment to a reprimand and a fine of 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,000) for failing to cooperate with FIFA investigators.

Asked if CAS’ decision will benefit him in the general election, Worawi said: “I believe people will understand things that have happened to me. But the most important thing is I have proved my innocence from the decision of the CAS and Thai Appeal Court.”

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Former FIFA official Makudi overturns ban from soccer at CAS

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former senior FIFA official Worawi Makudi has won an appeal and overturned a ban from soccer for unproven forgery.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says it canceled a 3+-year ban imposed by FIFA for alleged wrongdoing during a Thailand soccer federation election.

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Makudi’s punishment was cut to a reprimand and a 5,000 Swiss franc ($5,000) fine for failing to cooperate with FIFA investigators.

CAS says it declined to award Makudi costs because the new witness and evidence he produced were available to FIFA judicial bodies.

Makudi was accused of altering Thai soccer statutes before his 2013 presidential re-election campaign.

Makudi was a FIFA executive committee member for 18 years until being voted out by Asian member federations in 2015.

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Thailand frees refugee Hakeem al-Araibi

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Hakeem Al-Araibi has been freed by Thailand, as Bahrain dropped its extradition request for the refugee soccer player.

Al-Araibi, 25, is a refugee in Australia after fleeing his homeland of Bahrain in 2014.

He was held in Bangkok in November after traveling to Thailand on his honeymoon, as Bahrain had sent out an Interpol notice to detain Al-Araibi.

The former player for the Bahrain national team was granted political asylum in Australia and if he was extradited to Bahrain many feared he would be subjected to torture due to his criticism of the government.

Bahrain want him to serve a 10-year prison sentence for his alleged involvement in vandalism of a police station.

Al-Araibi denies the charge and says that he was previously blindfolded and beaten when held in Bahrain and believes he has been targeted due to his Shiite faith and because his brother is involved in politics in the Middle East country.

Craig Foster, a former Australian national team player and current broadcaster, has led the protests for Al-Araibi to be freed as the likes of Didier Drogba and Jamie Vardy have also supported the cause.

IOC backs FIFA’s calls for Bahraini player to be released

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The International Olympic Committee has backed FIFA’s calls for a Bahraini soccer player to be allowed to return to Australia from Thailand where he is detention while being pursued for extradition by Bahrain.

But Asian soccer’s leadership is declining to publicly back the campaign to secure the release of Hakeem al-Araibi, who has refugee status in Australia.

The IOC said its president, Thomas Bach, “has personally discussed this worrying situation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.”

FIFA asked the Thai government earlier this week to ensure al-Araibi was released at the “earliest possible moment.”

The IOC said its “full support for the FIFA actions in order to find a solution based on `basic human and humanitarian values”‘ has been conveyed to the Thai government by IOC member Khunying Patama Leeswadtraku.

By contrast, the Asian Football Confederation only says it “continues to work with FIFA … to find a solution.” In emails, AFC spokesman Colin Gibson would not say what the governing body believes the solution should be, specifically declining to back calls for al-Araibi’s return to Australia.

An AFC statement said Senior Vice President Praful Patel is handling the matter and not President Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, a member of Bahrain’s royal family, to prevent any “conflict of interest.”

Al-Araibi has said he was tortured in Bahrain after his 2012 arrest and fled in 2014 to Australia, which granted him political asylum in 2017 and where he now plays for Melbourne’s Pascoe Vale Football Club.

Bahrain wants its former national team player returned to serve a 10-year prison sentence that was handed down in absentia after he was accused of vandalizing a police station – a charge he denies.

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Asian Cup: Lippi’s China comes from behind; Vietnam advances (video)

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AL AIN, United Arab Emirates (AP) China fought back from a goal down to beat Thailand 2-1 in the round of 16 of the Asian Cup on Sunday and avoid a potentially embarrassing upset.

Supachai Jaided put Thailand ahead in the 31st minute, turning and shooting despite being surrounded by three defenders, before Chinese striker Wu Lei missed a string of good chances.

World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi brought veteran Xiao Zhi off the bench in the 64th and three minutes later he scored the equalizer, knocking the ball into the net on the rebound from his own saved header.

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Gao Lin quickly added a second from the penalty spot after he was fouled by Chalermpong Kerdkaew. China goalkeeper Yun Junling averted extra time when he stopped Chalermpong’s fierce shot in stoppage time.

China will face either Iran or Oman in Thursday’s quarterfinal as it bids to end a 15-year absence from Asian Cup semifinals. China’s national team has often fallen short despite the country’s long-term ambitions of becoming a soccer superpower and the wealth of Chinese clubs. China has only qualified for the World Cup once, losing all its games in 2002, and lost its only Asian Cup final to Japan two years later.

Thailand, which got out of the Asian Cup group stage for the first time in 47 years, had caretaker coach Sirisak Yodyadthai in charge after firing Milovan Rajevac following its opening group-stage 4-1 loss to India.

Earlier Sunday, Vietnam surprised an on-form Jordan team on penalties to reach the quarterfinals.

The 20-year-old midfielder Bui Tien Dung stroked the winning penalty into the bottom-left corner as Vietnam won the shootout 4-2 after the game finished 1-1 following extra time. Vietnam took the initiative in the shootout after Jordan’s Baha Seif hammered a penalty onto the crossbar and Vietnam’s Russian-born keeper Dang Van Lam leapt to palm away Ahmed Salah’s shot.

Despite being nine places higher in the world rankings, Vietnam was something of an underdog given it had only once before played an Asian Cup knockout game and Jordan had beaten reigning champion Australia in the group stage.

Jordan took the lead in the 39th minute after referee Alireza Faghani gave a rare indirect free kick inside the penalty area for a high foot. After the slightest of touches from a teammate, Baha Abdel-Rahman blasted the ball into the net from a tight angle.

After struggling to create chances in the first half, Vietnam was more incisive after halftime. In the 51st, Nguyen Cong Phuong flicked teammate Nguyen Trong Hoang’s cross high into the net. Shortly after, a Jordan defensive blunder nearly gave Vietnam the lead but Anas Bani Yaseen rushed back to clear the ball off the line.

Vietnam will play either Japan or Saudi Arabia in its first Asian Cup quarterfinal since 2007.

It’s the first time the Asian Cup has had a last-16 round after expanding to 24 teams.

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