Footie is fun but hooligans need to go
Last week: Viet Nam News asked its readers about their great moments with football and their opinions on illegal gambling and races held by hooligans.
Discussions on whether prostitution should be legalised and whether red-light streets are suitable in Viet Nam have caused heated debate after a police chief suggested prostitution be seen as a profession.
Colonel Ho Sy Tien, acting director of the Ministry of Public Security's Investigative Police Agency on Social Order, in an interview with a newspaper suggested that it would be easier to control prostitution if it was recognised as a profession and ruled by regulations.
Once recognised, the State could also collect tax while the education and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) could be easier, he said, adding that illegal prostitutes and their customers only had to pay a sum of money for administrative fines.
Many people agree with Tien, especially now that HIV/AIDS carriers in Viet Nam are receiving increased sympathy after a long time of being seen as a social evil. They claim that sex workers, especially the female ones, also need sympathy, support and protection.
The opposition argues that legalising prostitution is a complicated matter that may badly affect the country's political institutions, laws, customs and practices, and apparatus of Government. They are also afraid that it would go against the traditional morality and rights of women.
What do you think? What would be the pros and cons of legalising prositution, especially in Viet Nam? Should it be seen as a profession or a social evil?
Please reply by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, June 28.
To Lam Vien Khoi, Vietnamese, HCM City
Football has been my favourite hobby since I was a kid. Dad and I always sat together and watched England or Germany during the Euro or World Cup. We had a bet sometimes. The loser had to buy breakfast.
The best moments are when a goal is scored in the last minutes of the game. Such goals show miracles are possible!
It is always a great joy when your team wins. I shout as loud as possible and even jump up and down. When we lose, I often end up being sad for two or three days. During that time, I do not read newspapers. I avoid any discussion about my team's failure.
Our nation is famous for its football mania. However, sometimes the mania goes too far. In V-League, many police are present during matches to stop the hooligans. And authorities also ban betting, which can lead to many social evils.
Kenn Nguyen, Vietnamese, US
I love soccer but I'm not a crazy fan. I wish I were watching soccer matches with my friends or my family during Euro, but I'm abroad so I watch the matches alone. It is not quite the same.
One of the greatest moments since the start of the series was when Vander Vaart scored a first goal in the Portugal-Netherlands match. It raised hope that the Dutch had a chance of making the quarter final.
Nguyen Hoang Thanh Danh, Vietnamese, Japan
When I was a child, my favourite team was the Vietnamese national side. I never skipped a single international match that our team played.
The most memorable match was the Viet Nam-Thailand match in 1998. Prior to that match, Thailand was considered the superior team, winning all its games against Viet Nam.
However, we managed to win that match 3-0 and advanced to the final (where we were defeated by Singapore). When the referee whistled the end of the match with Thailand, everyone in the stadium burst into tears of joy and started to sing the national anthem. People who were watching the match via television poured into the streets, the red colour of the national flag was everywhere. That was one of the most exciting moments of my childhood.
However, as I grew up, I gradually lost interest in football. Although I still watch matches in the Premier League from time to time, and even bet on these matches, my excitement with football is not the same.
I think the vast majority of Vietnamese males do not really care about football, they just need an excuse to stay-up late at night with their friends without getting into trouble with their bosses the next day. And international football tournaments are the perfect excuse for that.
Some young men even use the games as the excuse to hold illegal street races and illegal gambling. In Viet Nam, betting on football matches, though technically illegal, is widely considered to be acceptable.
Ryu Hashimoto, Japanese, HCM City
I prefer baseball to football. In my country, professional baseball has a long history and I have been fond of it since childhood.
However, football matches, especially international games, inspire our patriotism, so I always watch the ceremony before the matches and enjoy singing our national anthem (I also enjoy singing Vietnamese national anthem with my Vietnamese wife and son).
When Japan wins a match, I usually sing our national anthem and the fans' song. When Japan and our neighbour, Korea, competed in the World Cup in 2002, public safety authorities thought about repressing hooligans by force.
However, they then realised that it would be better to control hooligans' emotions by being hospitable to them. I think Vietnamese public-safety authorities should think about taking a similar approach.
Nguyen Ha, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
Soccer has become the pre-eminent sports culture in the world. It really brings people together. They share their feelings with each other during matches.
Euro is no exception. By looking at the faces of my husband and his friends, I can figure out the result of a football match. It is really awesome for them to have a chance to spend a great time together because work prevents them from having frequent gatherings. I really appreciate these moments.
However, the news about Euro in recent days is terrible. Just recently, Ha Noi Police caught 22 people involved in illegal football gambles via the internet.
Earlier, heavy gambling debts pushed two men in central provinces to commit suicide. Some couples face divorce because of gambling or drunkeness after matches.
And the illegal motorbike races held by youngsters after football matches have frightened many people. Police are being mobilised to prevent these illegal activities, but the immediate measures are insufficient.
Why don't we educate people about the consequences of these illegal activities through the public media long before Euro starts? Why don't we have legal gambling services in Viet Nam like in other countries so that people can put a bet on their favourite teams?
It is time for relevant authorities to do something apart from introducing bans, which are rarely policed. — VNS