Players leave Vietnamese women's football club after disrespect

By Dong Huyen   January 24, 2024 | 06:41 pm PT
After their contracts ended, goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh, defender Tran Thi Thu and midfielder Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy did not extend with HCMC I Women's FC because they felt disrespected.
National goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh plays at Womens World Cup in 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong

National goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh plays at Women's World Cup in 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong

After 2023 ended, seven contracts of players at Ho Chi Minh City I Women's Football Club (HCMC I WFC) expired, including Tran Thi Kim Thanh, Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy, Chuong Thi Kieu, Tran Thi Thu, Tran Thi Thu Thao, Tran Nguyen Bao Chau, Tran Thi Thuy Trang and Doan Thi Kim Chi.

The group had for years made up the squad's backbone that helped HCMC win eight national league titles. They are also members of the national team that entered the Women's World Cup last year.

HCMC negotiated and successfully convinced Kieu, Thao, Chau, Trang and coach Chi to extend their contracts, while the remaining three players, goalkeeper Thanh, midfielder Thuy and defender Thu refused.

At the negotiation meeting on Jan. 8, Thanh, Thuy and Thu told the leaders of HCMC that another club were offering them contracts with better salaries and bonuses, but all three would stay if HCMC could meet 80% of the offer that they received.

On Jan. 15, negotiation continued but only Thanh and Thuy showed up, as Thu was uninvited.

At the meeting, HCMC expressed its willingness to increase salaries and other bonuses for Thanh and Thuy, with a monthly income of VND30 million and a bonus of VND300 million a year for their new contracts over the next two years.

Thanh and Thuy initially agreed, but then refused again.

According to goalkeeper Thanh, HCMC gave them a draft contract but the details, terms and appendices were not clear.

"The leader gave us an appendix of the contract and told us to write whatever we wanted by hand. We feel like this was not in good faith because if we really had an agreement, the contracts would be typed with specific details for both parties to sign. However, when we saw a contract in both handwriting and typed texts, with some parts erased and crossed out, we couldn't trust it," Thanh said.

After that, Thanh, Thuy and Thu decided to leave the club. Thu, who was not invited to the meeting on Jan. 15, was very upset.

"I played for HCMC for nine years, won eight league titles and three National Cups, but when my contract ended, the leaders turned their backs on me," Thu said. "They made promises and then remained silent. I hope my contract will be handled soon so I can find a new team. I’m not in the mood to stay anymore."

Thanh also said that if the club really had goodwill, it would have found a sponsor and taken the right steps as soon as the contracts of players were about to expire.

"It was only when we all announced our departure that the leaders did something about it. We have played here for a long time, so it’s disrespectful and unreasonable to treat us like that. Because of that, we are determined to leave and seek new challenges," Thanh affirmed.

On Wednesday, in the third and final meeting, new contracts were offered to the three players, but they didn’t veer from their decision to leave.

"We really wanted these three players to stay at HCMC but couldn’t convince them," said Nguyen Nam Nhan, deputy director of HCMC Culture and Sports Department. "The three are key players that contributed greatly to the success of HCMC women’s football. But if their desire is to leave the club, we respect that and will carry out all procedures as soon as possible."

This is not the first time that HCMC lost their players this way. In 2022, Nguyen Thi My Anh and Le Hoai Luong departed the club to join Thai Nguyen T&T with much better salaries and bonuses.

"I’m really glad that the department respected our decision to leave," Thanh said. "We want to thank HCMC for making us who we are today. But our football career is ending soon and we want to leave and find new challenges."

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