Thai Prisoners Play Elephants in Soccer By JENNIFER VALENTINO, Associated Press Writer AYUTHAYA, Thailand - Here come the elephants. Thai officials organized a soccer game between elephants and prisoners Sunday in hopes of discouraging gambling on the European Championships. "We expect that people will support the idea that we can get fun from playing football, not gambling on football," said Nathee Chitsawang, director-general of the Thai Corrections Department. Thai authorities have cracked down on soccer gambling in prisons and elsewhere since Euro 2004 began this month in Portugal. Corrections officials have blocked viewing of the tournament in some prisons and have relocated inmates suspected of bookmaking. Sunday's game was a reward for some inmates from the Ayuthaya prison, which houses about 1,500 men. More than 200 spectators watched the prisoners take to the muddy field with the elephants ridden by drivers from the nearby Ayuthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal. The prisoners cut through a forest of elephant legs to score the first goal. But without clear rules against "trunkball," the elephants, guided by their riders, moved the oversized ball easily. The game ended in a 5-5 tie. The Elephant Palace is home to more than 100 elephants, some of which perform for tourists and in films. "We train the elephants every day to play soccer, kick the ball, and to keep from stepping on the other people," said Pattarapon Meepan, 19, whose father owns the Elephant Palace. "They are not the best players because they are quite slow," he said. "But they try their best. These elephants can do everything."