|Thai officials have gone to even further lengths to help address the issue of the gambling taking place in the country during the course of Euro 2004. Authorities organised a game of football between inmates of a prison and a group of elephants! Director General of the Thai Corrections department Nathee Chitsawang explained the unusual approach by saying: “We expect that people will support the idea that we can get fun from playing football, not gambling on football”.|
Whilst crackdowns on gambling are happening throughout Thailand, there has also been effort made to dampen betting taking place amongst the wards of Thai prisons. The game was organised not only to promote the idea of fun, but also as a reward to prisoners in Ayuthaya prison. Meanwhile some prisons have had viewing of the games restricted, and inmates who have been suspected of organising bookmaking have been relocated.
Ayuthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal supplied the elephants involved in the friendly game. The elephants are trained daily in the basic skills of football, like kicking the ball, as well as safety measures like not stepping on other people. 200 spectators watched the game between the two teams, which ended in a 5 all draw. Son of the Elephant Palace owner, Pattarapon Meepan said of the elephants, 'They are not the best players because they are quite slow. But they try their best. These elephants can do everything.'