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Tea Leaves

Dark art of politics clouds Southeast Asian soccer

Sport’s long-term goal should be to put its fans in charge of clubs

Officially, politics has no place in Southeast Asian soccer. Believe that and you’ll believe anything. The bonds between sport and politics run wide and deep. But if Malaysia can throw out its ruling party after 60 years in power then perhaps there can be change in sport too.

It will not be easy, given that many in the region see political nous as an essential element in soccer management. “My political background is great experience for football,” a well-connected Thai, Somyot Poompanmoung, told me over lunch in Bangkok in February 2016.

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