Thailand: Rules for monks who love football

Bangkok Post, June 15, 2006

Bangkok, Thailand -- Thailand's Buddhist monks are allowed to watch the current World Cup matches on television but they should strictly observe serenity--no cheering and, most importantly, no betting, Religious Affairs Department director-general Preecha Gunteeya said here Tuesday.

<< Monks can view (the matches) inside their living quarters only and must strictly observe serenity - no cheering, no shouting and betting is strongly prohibited

According to Buddhism's strictest tenets, they should abstain from pleasurable activity. Gambling is a serious taboo.

However, he said, the department considered the World Cup tournament an international sport and Thailand's Buddhist monks should be able to watch.

"But the monk should view inside their living quarters only and strictly observe serenity," he said. "No cheering, no shouting," and, of course, betting is strongly prohibited.

The director-general said the provincial chief monks were instructed to monitor the responsible monasteries to make sure that the monks would behave properly.

There have been no complaints about betting among monks, Mr Preecha said.

However, if an offense does take place, the abbot, sub-district and provincial chief monks would face hash punishment if the monks in their responsibility are found to have behaved improperly, he added.