Bizarre own goal nets half-season ban for V. League 2 player

By Hoang Nguyen, Duc DongApril 4, 2019 | 05:35 am PT
Bizarre own goal nets half-season ban for V. League 2 player
A Facebook photo shows defender Nguyen Van Quan in XSKT Can Tho FC jersey.
Vietnam Football Federation has slapped a half-season ban on a V. League 2 player who strangely free-kicked into his own goal.

Nguyen Van Quan will not only be banned from the first leg of V. League 2, he will also have to pay a fine of VND20 million ($861) for "inappropriate behavior" during a football match.

Defender Quan, who captains XSKT Can Tho FC in V. League 2, shot the ball directly into his team’s net in a Vietnamese National Football Cup game against Binh Phuoc FC in the southern Binh Phuoc Province last Saturday.

The incident happened in the 39th minute of the match, when Quan was fouled by an opponent and received a free kick in his team’s half of the field. Instead of passing the ball forward to his teammates, Quan turned around and essayed a powerful shot into his own team’s goal.

Quan held his head in disbelief and collapsed on the ground after the goal, which was not counted, because, under FIFA rules, scoring a direct goal from a free kick is invalid. Instead, a corner kick is given to the opponent afterwards.

The game ended 2-2 after 120 minutes, but Binh Phuoc FC won 8-7 on penalties.

After the match, Vietnamese football fans on social networks expressed suspicion that the self-goal was deliberate and a sign of match-fixing.

But Quan maintained it was an unfortunate accident.

"I made a technical mistake in that free kick. When I took the shot, my shoes dug deep into the grass and changed the direction of the ball. I wanted to pass the ball forward to my teammate but the wind was strong and it accidentally went into the net. I had no bad intention," Quan said.

Nguyen Thanh Danh, head coach of Can Tho FC, also affirmed that it was a technical mistake and the wind had changed the direction of the ball.

Although it was initially considered an accident, two days after the game, Quan’s club punished him.

"We have evaluated carefully before giving Quan his punishment. We decided to strip him of his captaincy and ban him for three matches. This is a punishment for players that have created a bad image for the club, not because he was involved in match-fixing," Danh told VnExpress.

On Tuesday, Quan was given an even heavier punishment by the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF). He was banned for the entire first leg of V. League 2, which means he will not be able to play for three months. He was also fined VND20 million ($861).

When Quan heard about the VFF punishment, he was shocked.

He apologized to fans and reiterated that he did not engage in match-fixing. "It was just an accident."

"I hope that VFF will reconsider their decision because a punishment like this can kill my career," Quan pleaded.

Vu Xuan Thanh, head of VFF’s Disciplinary Department, said it had a meeting on Monday before coming up with the punishment decision. "After taking a careful look, we concluded Quan’s action was an inappropriate behavior and it affected Vietnamese football’s image badly," Thanh said.

Thanh also disagreed with Quan’s explanation for the weird own goal.

"We asked the supervisors on the field that day and they said that there was no strong wind during the match. The goalkeeper was too close to him, and in that situation it’s not normal for him to take a shot like that.

"And this is not a punishment for a player involved in match-fixing. If Quan had been involved in match fixing, the punishment will be much heavier, he could be banned from football for life," Thanh said.

When asked if this would be investigated further, Thanh said VFF will leave it to the police.

"The police will continue investigating. It’s their job to find out if Quan was involved in match-fixing or not," Thanh added.

Quan, 32, has been playing for Can Tho FC since 2015. In 2018, he sat out most of the time because of injuries and his team was relegated from V. League 1, Vietnam's top professional football league, to the second tier V. League 2.

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