BANGKOK — On June 11, 2015, on the World Cup, the Thai ladies’s soccer crew defeated the Ivory Coast squad, 3-2. It was the Southeast Asian nation’s debut on the event, and the victory was as sudden because it was thrilling.
4 years later to the day, the Thai ladies made historical past once more, victims of probably the most lopsided thrashing in World Cup historical past, shedding to the Individuals, 13-0.
However removed from bemoaning the rout, which came about within the early morning hours in Bangkok when the streets have been darkish however the pavements nonetheless pulsing with tropical warmth, Tanatpong Kongsai was glad that the squad was representing Thailand in its second consecutive World Cup.
“I’m not embarrassed in any respect,” stated Mr. Tanatpong, a longtime soccer fan. “The Thai nationwide anthem was heard all around the stadium. The ladies’s crew by no means disappoints Thais.”
Though the American gamers earned some criticism for his or her exuberant celebration of each purpose — by the 13th, it grew to become exhausting to recollect how every was scored — most supporters of the Thai crew declined to take offense or wallow in nationwide angst.
Thatcha Antivackis, a Thai residing in France, drove about 150 miles to attend the World Cup match in Reims, France, on Tuesday. “The U.S. crew’s supporters have been so pleasant and good,” she stated. “Even when the outcome was 20-0, we might nonetheless have enjoyable and provides ethical help to each participant.”
“We cheered and sang for the crew till the final of the 94 minutes,” she added. “I used to be glad to be there and proud that the crew may get to this stage.”
Adisorn Phiungya, a tv sports activities commentator, additionally defended the Individuals, who’re the defending World Cup champions, towards accusations that they showboated or scored gratuitous targets.
“That is their new crew, they usually wished to win,” he stated. “This can be a sport of teamwork. When you rating a purpose, in fact it’s a must to have a good time.”
Many Thais are soccer mad. Two Thai tycoons took possession of the Premier League groups Manchester Metropolis and Leicester. However the males’s nationwide crew, generally known as the Battle Elephants, has by no means made it to the World Cup. Solely a handful of Thai males have performed for a high abroad membership.
The native league is rife with corruption and match-fixing. A former head of the Soccer Affiliation of Thailand had such a scandal-plagued tenure that he was pushed out by FIFA, the worldwide physique governing soccer, which itself has proven a capability to gloss over irregularities by member nationwide associations.
All of which makes the accomplishments of the Thai nationwide ladies’s crew shine extra brightly, its followers say. The ladies’s squad, whose mascot is a legendary pink elephant adorned with a flower on its left ear, is ranked 34th on this planet. The lads’s nationwide squad is 114th.
Though Thai ladies have earned extra Olympic gold medals than their male counterparts, all in weight lifting, ladies’s sports activities are nonetheless an afterthought within the nation. As in lots of Asian nations, the prevailing perspective is that males are alleged to play sports activities whereas ladies cheer them on.
“We have now to confess that there’s barely any recognition for girls’s home soccer,” stated Mr. Adisorn, the tv commentator.
Whereas FIFA has lobbied for larger authorities funding of ladies’s groups, personal benefactors are sometimes wanted to bankroll them. In Thailand, the cash comes from Nualphan Lamsam, the top of a Thai insurance coverage firm and heiress to a banking fortune.
Ms. Nualphan, identified right here as Madam Pang and well-known for her jet-setting social life, funds a few of the gamers’ salaries in order that they’ll consider soccer fairly than on incomes a paycheck.
On Fb on Wednesday, Ms. Nualphan, in her function because the crew’s basic supervisor, posted an apology for the crew’s efficiency however stored a optimistic outlook. “We’ll combat to the fullest within the two remaining matches with the spirit of sportsmanship,” she wrote.
Up subsequent for Thailand is Sweden after which Chile, which is ranked 39th on this planet and is making its personal World Cup debut.
In much less exalted tournaments, the Thai ladies’s crew is used to routs of its personal. At a pleasant final 12 months, the Thais dominated the Indonesians. The rating? 13-0.