Make Free Kicks...Not War!

This week the Thai government announced a radical new plan that they hope will derail the ongoing insurgency in the country’s violence plagued southern provinces. Their idea? Providing free cable TV coverage of English Premier League soccer (known as “football” in virtually every country besides the USA) matches to local tea shops.

Regardless of the absurdity of the idea, the Thai government appears intent on going forth with their plan. The Interior Minister, Konsak Wantana, wants to give away nearly 1,000 television sets to tea and coffee shops in the three Muslim-majority provinces that border Malaysia. He believes that the televised football games will lure young men away from joining insurgent forces. Said Konsak: “Most children love watching sports on TV, but they can’t afford them at home. So we are giving them what they love, hoping it will solve the problem.”

Some local observers, however, are not so certain. Ahmed Somboon Bualuang, a member of the National Reconciliation Commission, called the scheme “child-like and a bit insulting. People here are concerned with the daily killings, not about the lack of entertainment, or football on television.” Critics have warned that the televised games will encourage gambling and “other forms of vice.” Underground betting on sports is a well-known activity among Thai men and, increasingly, among teenagers around the country, many of whom are rabid fans of UK and European football teams.

But just think; if this idea really does work, the USA could use the same strategy in Iraq (nothing else is working, so why not!). I’m sure all those militant terrorists will gladly lay down their weapons and bombs to watch David Beckham and Ronaldo scamper around the football field, don’t you? Well, I didn’t think so either.

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