Vietnamese football tiger 'is about to wake up'

Vietnam police sources have confirmed that 23 referees and 13 football clubs have altered the outcomes of football games in the V-League and First Division. However Asian Football Confederation general secretary, Peter Velappan, has advised the Vietnam Football Federation not to delay or cancel V-League 2006 because of the scandal. VFF leaders unanimously agreed.

Wrapping up a week in Vietnam, the AFC leader urged Vietnam to continue its anti-corruption campaign in football so the sport could grow. "We are very serious about it because Vietnamese football cannot develop if corruption remains. AFC is concerned with such corrupt practises," he said in Hanoi. He suggested the use of lie-detectors to clean up the sport and said that “all of the guilty should be imprisoned.”

The AFC is willing to provide Vietnam with referees if the country does not have enough for the next professional league championship. AFC deputy general secretary Paul Mony said four foreign referees and two supervisors will first work with their Vietnamese colleagues at the four-team Agribank Cup 2005 which is scheduled for 26-30 October. The Thailand, Malaysian, and Vietnamese U23 teams and the Japanese U20 team, will play a single round-robin. The winner will receive a cash prize of US$ 40,000, the runner-up $20,000, and third place winner $10,000. Vietnam Television will broadcast live all games involving Vietnam.

It is not expected that foreign referees will be involved in the first National Student Football Championships - Samsung Cup - at HCM City's Military Zone 7 Stadium on 21-28 October. Eight teams from southern provinces will play a round-robin there followed by eight northern teams competing in Ha Tay the week of 2-10 November. The top two from each group will face off in the semi-finals in Hanoi's Hang Day Stadium on 11 and 12 November with the final showdown scheduled for 13 November. The winning team will receive VND 50 million (US $3,000). The runner-up will earn VND 30 million and the other two semi-finalists will get VND 15 million each.

The AFC believes that correct youth development is important for the health of football and its Vision Asia strategy is based on the tactical formation, 1-5-3-2: The goalkeeper is the national football federation; Fullbacks are football marketing, young footballer training, coach and referee training, and sports health; Halfbacks are women’s football, men’s football and footsal; and the pair of strikers is fans and the media.

“Vietnamese football is like a tiger that is about to wake up”, Velappan said when discussing the implementation of Vision Vietnam. However he did express suprise by the level of professionalism he found at Dong Tam Long An, one of the two Vietnamese clubs chosen by the AFC for the project. He noted good trainining and competing facilities, support from foreign experts, good care from local authorities and well-developed plans for training junior footballers.

AFC officials, including the director in charge of national football associations, Brendan Menton, underlined the necessity for Long An to set up a local football federation as well as conducting an annual tournament to discover young players in the province. Another AFC expert, Shamil Mahammed, suggested that Long An organise U-11s, U-13s and U-15s school competitions. The AFC is expected to complete its report on Long An’s five-year football development strategy in early December and approve the project for next year. US$ 250,000 will be provided to build up infrastructure and promote football in the province.

According to Liberated Saigon, Long An is the first province in Vietnam "to socialise sport activities" by handling its football club to the Dong Tam Brick Company to manage and develop as a professional club. Known as Gach Dong Tam Long An (GDT-LA), the club won promotion to the V-League three years ago, finished second in its first season in the top-flight and then took the title.

Portuguese premier club Boavista has reportedly agreed to allow GDT-LA footballers to train with the club and will provide advice on sports management and act as a consultant for building a sports complex in Vietnam. GDT-LA chairman Vo Quoc Thang said Boavista managers also agreed to send their team on an Asian tour and play two friendlies in Vietnam next summer.

See also: Vietnamese football acts to clean up corruption (2 Oct)