Football: Around the world - Thailand

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The Independent Online
PETER WITHE is still a Thai national hero despite being caught up in a "coach-for-votes" scandal that rocked English football.

It was revealed last week that the Football Association had paid part of Withe's salary as the Asian country's coach in the hope that Thailand would vote for England's bid to host the 2006 World Cup in return.

That, however, has not dented Withe's popularity in Bangkok. The former England centre-forward took the Thai team all the way to the semi-finals of the Asian Games on home soil, after a sensational win over South Korea with just nine men.

Withe said his conscience was clear, despite his part in the FA scandal. "I was asked to come here to do a job to help with the development of football in a developing country," he said after his Thai team lost their Asian Games bronze medal play-off with China 3-0 on Saturday. "I'm passionate about football and I'm passionate about my job. I'm a football person. I stay out of politics."

The match with China saw Withe reunited with his fellow Englishman Bob Houghton, now China's coach - 26 years after they last played together for Arcadia Shepherds in South Africa.