Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra has refused demands he resign after Fifa red-carded the new 1.2 billion baht Bangkok Futsal Arena.
“I will not resign, and please don’t blame the BMA (Bangkok Metropolitan Administration) and the staff. Just blame me,” he said at a press conference at the stadium on Wednesay.
The governor challenged Bangkok voters to decide his fate when he runs for re-election in January next year.
The world football governing body decided the 12,000-seat stadium was not suitable to host the 2012 Futsal World Cup competition now underway in Bangkok , including the finals matches, due to safety concerns because its construction was incomplete.
The decision was based on reports submitted by an Fifa inspection group, including safety and security experts, who evaluated the stadium in Nong Chok district last week.
The 1.2-billion-baht stadium was scheduled to host matches for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.
The quarter-final matches scheduled to be played next Wednesday will now shift to Nimibutr Gymnasium, while the semi-finals and final will be hosted at the Hua Mak Indoor Stadium.
Both stadiums have already hosted group-stage matches.
MR Sukhumbhand blamed the problems on the flooding last year.
After the floods, the BMA struggled to find a contractor and eventually signed an agreement with EMC Plc shortly before the ground-breaking ceremony on Jan 24 this year, he added.
Under the agreement, the construction firm needed 560 days to build the stadium but it finished the contract in 286 days because the BMA wanted to use it for the Futsal championship.
MR Sukhumbhand termed the construction a “miracle,” and said that the complete the stadium, including VIP rooms, would be ready on Thursday.
City Hall missed the handover deadline several times, the last time on Oct 29, prompting Fifa to delay the decision on whether to use the stadium until Tuesday this week – a day after the BMA said it completed the pitch with wooden parquet flooring.
He defended that people in Bangkok will benefit from the stadium although Fifa ruled it out of the futsal competition.
“I never thought of building the stadium for Fifa. It’s for people of Bangkok,” he said.
On Tuesday upon learning about Fifa’s decision, the governor said he felt sorry for all people who had worked hard on the arena.
He also defended himself, saying he had fulfilled his responsibilities to complete the stadium.