The seventh FIFA Futsal World Cup was officially launched today as dignitaries from across Thailand – affectionately known as ‘The Land of Smiles’ - and Asian football came to Bangkok.
The FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012 will be hosted between 1 and 18 November 2012 in the capital Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima or 'Korat'. Thailand is the third Asian host of the competition, following Hong Kong in 1992, and Chinese Taipei in 2004.
The emblem launch is an important milestone for any competition, providing a 'face' that is instantly recognisable both within the host country and around the world. Today’s launch also enabled the Local Organising Committee to showcase what visitors can expect later this year, during an hour long show.
Starting with a traditional Thai puppet show, the guests were treated to a performance that demonstrated the culture of Thailand’s four regions, as well as the hospitality of the Thai people.
Zhang Jilong, Acting President of the AFC and FIFA Executive Committee member, Worawi Makudi, President of the Football Association of Thailand and FIFA Executive Committee member, Vernon Manilal Fernando, Chairman of the Organising Committee for the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2012 and FIFA Executive Committee member, Suwat Liptapanlop, Chairman of the LOC, as well as Mom Rajawongse Sukhumbhand Paribatra (Governor of Bangkok), and Chuan Sirinanporn (Governor of Nakhon Ratchasima) all delivered speeches expressing their excitement that the countdown to the competition is now truly underway.
There was just time for Thai singer Patcha AF to wow the audience before Thai Prime Minister Ms Yingluck Shinawatra delivered a speech on behalf of her government, and then had the honour of starting a multi-coloured laser show that revealed the Official Emblem and Official Mascot – a football playing elephant - on two giant LED screens.
The 2012 competition is the first time that 24 teams have battled it out to be crowned world champions, with holders Brazil and perennial rivals Spain the pre-tournament favourites.
The hosts however have a strong track record in South-East Asia, having won the ASEAN Futsal Championship four times in a row between 2005 and 2008, as well as finishing runner-up in the AFC Futsal Championship in 2008. With a new head coach soon to be announced, the Changsuk are already targeting their best ever finish, having bowed out three times (2000, 2004 and 2008) at the First Round stage.