Channel NewsAsia

Curfew in Thailand set to hit football fans hard

The World Cup begins on Thursday, but football fans in Thailand are still in the dark about whether they will be allowed out to watch matches at outdoor venues under the military government's strict curfew laws.

BANGKOK: Curfew in Thailand -- the streets are cleared in order to maintain security, late night businesses are closed, and the public makes their way home ahead of the midnight to 4am lockdown.

The military curfew has affected Thailand's nightlife and tourist venues but now it is threatening to interfere with football-loving Thais ability to watch the FIFA World Cup.

Watching football matches in the wee hours of the night or morning is not unusual for football-crazy Thai fans who follow live English Premier League matches with almost religious fervour.

But under the military government, they may be forced to exchange the camaraderie of the local pub for a spot on their couch at home.

Live sports venues that would normally be crowded with people during big sporting events could face steep penalties if they remain open for business during the curfew. However, there is still a high level of uncertainty about whether exceptions will be made for World Cup games.

Eoin O'Kelly, manager of The Dubliner Pub, said: "Now the big thing is what's going to happen in the next couple of days with the World Cup. We're all excited but basically everyday is a hit and miss, we don't know.

"The uncertainty is going to affect us. If we knew we could or we knew we couldn't, we'd be able to do something about it."

The military maintains that the curfew is still necessary but also hints that the situation may change.

Colonel Winthai Suvari, who is with the Royal Thai Military, said: "For people who want to watch the world cup in areas that (the curfew) is still necessary, we would ask people to stay at home. But there is still time, we will continue to discuss this issue."

There are other challenges facing Thai football fans -- the broadcast rights for the World Cup's 64 matches have been bought up by a local cable network, meaning that not all the games will broadcast on free-to-air television, leaving people without cable TV unable to see the matches.

If the military is truly looking to return happiness to Thai society, the curfew may need some serious reconsideration. 

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia