Vietnam football club coach fined for defaming homeland

By Quang Dung   May 28, 2024 | 05:12 am PT
Vu Tien Thanh, Vietnamese club Hoang Anh Gia Lai's head coach, has been fined for violating proper and professional speech and conduct after he accused his country's football leadership of "incompetence."

Vietnam’s V. League authorities fired back by saying Thanh’s words and language used "negatively affected the image of Vietnamese football."

The official censure was issued by the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) on Tuesday.

Coach Vu Tien Thanh reacts to the referee in the V. League game at Thong Nhat Stadium, HCMC on May 26, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.

Coach Vu Tien Thanh reacts to the referee in the V. League game at Thong Nhat Stadium, HCMC, on May 26, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.

Usually, for inappropriate speech, Thanh would be fined a minimum of VND10 million (US$393) or suspended from coaching for at least two games. But this time, the penalty was doubled because the target of his vulgar obscenities was the VFF itself.

According to VFF, Thanh's behavior was an individual act, so his team as a whole would be exempt from their squad leader’s punishment.

"We chose a punishment that is both accurate and reasonable given the context," VFF said in a statement released announcing the condemnation of the coach’s actions.

"Next time, if Thanh repeats his action, the penalty will be increased, and he could possibly face a ban from coaching."

A day earlier, the Vietnam Professional Football JSC (VPF) and the V-League Organizing Committee sent an official joint-complaint proposing that Thanh be fined.

According to VPF, Thanh took advantage of the press conference after HAGL lost 1-4 to host Ho Chi Minh City FC on Sunday to make statements that were "unrelated to the match."

Thanh blamed the referee for incorrectly making an offside call in the 60th minute, which he said caused HAGL to lose a chance to equalize 2-2.

In an albeit vague and cryptic – but serious – accusation, Thanh continued his tirade by saying that VFF intentionally arranged for referees Ngo Duy Lan and Nguyen Dinh Thai to referee HAGL matches against Hanoi FC and Ho Chi Minh City FC.

Thanh criticized VPF for poor management on this issue.

"VPF was supposed to support the clubs but now we are the victims," Thanh said. "VPF schedules a match every four days and has many problems with organizing referees – and VFF didn’t do anything about it."

In the straw that broke the camel’s back, Thanh then went as far as to say that the current leaders of VPF, including chairman Tran Anh Tu and vice chairman Nguyen Quoc Hoi – who he mentioned by name – are "incompetent."

He argued not lightly, and with no levity, that as long as these leaders remain in office, the situation at VPF will not change, and Vietnamese football will "continue to decline."

In last year’s previous V. League season, Thanh, who was the head coach HCMC FC at that time, was fined VND10 million for inappropriate statements at a press conference after a 1-3 loss to Hanoi FC.

Without shrinking form controversy he had minced no words when he said unequivocally that whenever his team played Hanoi FC, they lost because of the referees’ officiating.

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