Thai head coach says sorry for assistant’s uncouth behavior

By Lam Thoa   November 24, 2019 | 04:39 am PT
Thai head coach says sorry for assistant’s uncouth behavior
Park (R) shakes Nishino's hand after the latter issued an apology at the press conference in Manila on November 24. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
Thailand’s head coach Akira Nishino has issued a public apology for his assistant Sasa Todic’s apparent body shaming of Vietnam’s coach Park Hang-seo.

"I want to apologize for my assistant's actions at the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers. Park and I have a good relationship and know each other from before. I respect Park Hang-seo very much, he is a good manager," Nishino said at a press conference in Manila Sunday.

Nishino said he earlier had directly apologized to Park after assistant coach Todic made the gesture in question, and has "reprimanded" the latter.

After the press conference, which precedes the first match of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games 30) group stage, coach Park called Nishino to linger, shook hands and acknowledged the latter’s apology.

The incident in question took place when Park went and shook hands with him after a goalless match between Vietnam and Thailand in the 2022 World Cup qualifier at Hanoi's My Dinh Stadium on Tuesday night.

Todic had then gestured with a downward movement of his palm toward Park, which many interpreted as mocking his short stature. It provoked Park but Vietnamese assistant coach Lee Young-jin took him away, avoiding a confrontation.

Todic has denied the allegations that he was mocking Park, saying that his gesture meant Vietnam was going to drop from the current top position of the group to below Thailand. Todic also apologized to people who felt insulted and asked for forgiveness. But he did not apologize to Park specifically.

This is not the first time the two teams have been involved in controversy when playing each other. When they played out another draw in Thailand on September 5, Park got a yellow card after there were angry words exchanged.

The SEA Games 30 will take place from November 30 to December 11 in the Philippines with 56 sports offering 529 sets of medals, making it the sporting event with the largest number of sports in history.

Vietnam’s delegation will participate in over 40 sports, and has targeted winning 65 to 70 gold medals.

Sasa Todic is reportedly part of Thailand’s U22 football team participating in the SEA Games. Vietnam and Thailand are scheduled to play each other on December 5.

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