A Guide To The Thailand Football Association

The Thailand Football Association is the official governing body for football, beach soccer, and futsal in Thailand. The association has been a member of FIFA since June 1925 and Asian Football Confederation since 1954. This article is a brief insight into the history and current status of the Thailand Football Association.

Thailand Football Association History

The history of football in Thailand can be traced back to the 1900s. In March 1900, a football game was organised in front of the Grand Palace on Sam Luang. The match was between teams from the Department of Education and Bangkok. There were four players in the Bangkok team, and this led to an interest in the sport among the locals.

The next year, the education department launched a football contest for players under 20. This was followed by the introduction of more contests. In 1910, King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) came into power. The king was educated in European institutions and saw football as a way to develop stamina and improve fitness. 

In 1915, the king arranged a trial of matches between his Wild Tiger Corps, the police, and the army and then arranged a match between his Wild Tigers Royal Hunter Company and the British-administered Royal Bangkok Sports Club. The Thai team lost the match, but this match led to a manifold in the public’s interest in the sport. 

The Gold Cup was organised at the king’s behest a week later. 12 teams from the government departments, army, and police participated and played 28 games in three rounds. This contest became an annual event and was named the Warriors Cup.

The Siam Football Federation was established in November 1915 to form Siam’s first national team. This team played its first match against the British players of the Bangkok Sports Club.

In April 2016, the king-commissioned the Football Association of Siam was established. The king’s favourite courtier, Phraya Prasit Supakarn, was appointed the association’s first president. The association introduced two annual competitions, the Small Cup and Big Cup. These contests were held on the grounds in Bangkok’s vicinity, while the final matches were held at the Wild Tiger Stadium.

Thailand’s International Football Efforts

The Football Association became a member of FIFA in 1925 and joined the Asian Football Confederation in 1954. Thailand was invited to participate in the World Cup in 1930, but the country did not have sufficient funds to send its team to Uruguay.

The team played its first international match in Saigon against a team from French Indochina. The national football team participated in the Olympics in Australia for the first time in 1956. The team was defeated by Britain. 

Formation Of Thai Football Leagues

The Big and Small Cup contests were held till 1996. In 1962, two lower-level contests were introduced to promote the sport’s growth and increase the number of clubs.

The football league system was introduced in 1996, and the Thai Premier League was established as the top-tier league. The Big Cup, also called Gor Cup, was dropped, but the three lower levels of tournaments were retained till 2015.

The Thai Football League has four professional and semi-professional league levels and an amateur league.

  • The Thai League 1 is the top league in the country. The league has 16 teams and follows a promotion and demotion system with the Thai League 2.
  • The Thai League 2 is the second-tier professional league in the country. The league has 18 teams. The league’s top three teams at the end of the season are upgraded to the Thai League 1.
  • The Thai League 3 is the third-tier professional league in the country. The league is divided into two regions and 32 participating clubs from eight countries.
  • The Thailand Amateur League is the fourth-tier league in the country and has 119 teams.

The Thailand Football Association organises various football contests in the country. An annual match called the Thai FA cup is organised between the Thai football clubs. The Thai League Cup is another annual match organised for football clubs in Thailand. 

Another event is the Thai Champions Cup. It is an annual event held between the winners of the Thai League 1 and the Thai FA Cup or Thai League 1 runner-up team. The association organises the King Cup annually, which is an international football competition held for national teams. The event was held for the first time in 1968. In 1970, the Thailand Football Association also introduced the Queen’s cup, which is an annual national football competition.

Is Thailand good at football?

Thailand is the most successful football team in Southeast Asia. It has won six AFF championships and has also won nine gold medals at the senior level in the Southeast Asian Games. However, the team ranks 111 in FIFA.

Is Thailand in the FIFA world cup?

Thailand has not yet qualified for the FIFA World Cup. The team has reached the final round of the World Cup qualifying tournament twice, in 2002 and 2018.

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