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Thailand Got a Boost From a Patron and Another Country’s Steroid Ban

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

PARIS — This is a story about North Korea, a dubious lightning strike, the curative wonders of deer musk glands and how Thailand became a women’s soccer power.

It also is the story of the insurance magnate who is the general manager and benefactor of the Thai team. And the American-born Thai forward who will face one of her childhood heroes on Tuesday when Thailand plays the United States in their opening match of the Women’s World Cup in Reims, France.

“I don’t think the Thais consider themselves an Asian power,” said Thailand forward Miranda Nild, 22, who grew up in the Bay Area and attended Cal-Berkeley, as did the American star Alex Morgan, whom Nild idolized as a younger player.