Vietnam complains about Thai assistant coach Todic’s 'inappropriate' gesture

By Lam Thoa, Thang Nguyen   November 21, 2019 | 08:40 pm PT
Vietnam complains about Thai assistant coach Todic’s 'inappropriate' gesture
Thailand's assistant coach Sasa Todic (R) gestures toward coach Park Hang-seo who came to shake hands with Thailand's head coach Akira Nishino (L) after the 2022 World Cup qualifier game in Hanoi, November 19, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
Vietnam has complained to the Asian Football Confederation about Thai assistant coach Sasa Todic’s apparent body shaming of coach Park Hang-seo.

Tran Quoc Tuan, vice president of the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF), said: "Football is an intense sport, but it requires fair play from both sides. Sasa Todic's behavior toward coach Park Hang-seo was inappropriate."

Park went and shook hands with Thailand's head coach Akira Nishino after a goalless match between Vietnam and Thailand in the 2022 World Cup qualifier at Hanoi's My Dinh Stadium on Tuesday night.

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

Park said after the game: "It seems like it was a mental tactic of the opposition. He constantly sneered at me during the match."

It was reported that Nishino acknowledged his deputy's disrespectful behavior and apologized to Park.

Todic denied insulting Park, saying it was a misunderstanding.

In a written statement, he said: "My gesture of moving my hand from top to bottom was to demonstrate the idea that Vietnam will drop from the current top position of the group to below Thailand. My next reaction, captured from a different angle, shows that I wasn't planning to participate in a quarrel. I tried to smile back and repeated my actions, implying that Vietnam would fall from the top of the table to a lower position."

Todic 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 a 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.

If Park had received another card in Hanoi, he would have been banished from the touchline for the match against Malaysia next March.

If the AFC finds Todic culpable, he could be suspended for 10 matches and slapped with a fine of at least $20,000 for violating FIFA's anti-discrimination clause, which says "Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour ... or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion."

Thailand are currently in third place in Group G with eight points.

Vietnam top with 11 points and have three matches left against Malaysia on March 31, Indonesia on April 6, and UAE on June 9.

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