HÀ NỘI — Finally, unexpectedly, the national football season has come an abrupt end, leaving a series of problems behind that have never been seen in the nation's sporting history.
After an online meeting recently between the Việt Nam Professional Football Company (VPF) and representatives of 27 football clubs, it was decided that the 2020-21 season would be cancelled after twice being delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, 14 teams of the V. League 1 had competed in just 12 matches in the first period, with former champions Hoàng Anh Gia Lai sitting on top of the table before the competition was delayed.
It was expected to return next February. Due to the rapid spread of the outbreak in most cities and provinces, organisers had to make the unwanted decision.
The V. League 2 clubs have played seven matches while the National Cup has run for only two rounds.
However, at the meeting delegates were unable to finalise whether Hoàng Anh Gia Lai could receive the league trophy and if anyone should be relegated.
The organisers also have to review the regulations of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to find which team could be Việt Nam’s representatives in continental competitions.
It is the first such cancellation in the history of Vietnamese football.
One day after the unexpected decision, Quảng Ninh Football Limited Company announced that they would stop working for one year, causing Than Quảng Ninh FC to be effectively frozen.
The club has been in a financial crisis since 2020. From April until now, Than Quảng Ninh has owed salaries, win bonuses and signing fees to many players.
According to Club President Phạm Thanh Hùng, the total sum owed is up to VNĐ70 billion (US$3.06 million), with the club not able to shoulder such a large debt as Việt Nam Coal Corporation, the main sponsor of the team, is no longer able to support the team with VNĐ30 billion ($1.31 million) each season as it had in the past.
Hùng, chairman of the Hà Giang Gold Mineral Exploitation JSC, was given the right to run Quảng Ninh FC in 2014. He said he has decided to give the team back to Quảng Ninh Province, which must now take charge of paying the players.
It is rumoured that an enterprise wants to take on the team but has said the debt is not their responsibility.
Many of the club's players, including midfielder Trịnh Hoa Hùng, have said that they would sue the club if they are not paid by August 31.
At the same time, they will send documents to the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF), the AFC and, if necessary, FIFA to resolve the matter.
With the season postponed, clubs have decided to end the contracts of foreign players to reduce their expenses.
Hoàng Anh Gia Lai terminated the contract of defender Damir Memovic. Sông Lam Nghệ An cannot keep forward Peter Onyekachi Samuel. Nam Định has no foreign players after it ended deals with striker Rodrigo Dias, defender Wesley Rodrigues and forward Oussou Konan.
HCM FC have let their strikers Junior Barros and Patrick da Silva leave. Their key overseas midfielder Lee Nguyễn returned home to the US early this month.
Meanwhile, deals with local players have not yet been considered. Each club has at least 10 Vietnamese players with deals set to expire by the end of the year.
Quảng Ninh’s captain Nguyễn Hải Huy posted a photo of him sorting shrimp, captioned: “Officially a football rest, sorting shrimp until the end of 2021.”
“Many people think footballers have a high salary, but it is not really right. We are jobless when the contract ends, and we don’t when the new season begins,” said Hải, who now works for his seafood business with his parents.
Striker Nguyễn Xuân Nam of Bình Định showed a photo of him helping his father buy and sell waste papers. "Parents paid VNĐ200,000 (US$8.8) per day. Take this rest to earn money!" he wrote in an online status update
Meanwhile, Lê Trung Hiếu of Hải Phòng said the V. League cancellation was unavoidable.
Most of the players do not know what to do except for football. Only a small number of them are lucky enough to have an extra job to earn enough in this period, he said. — VNS