Yet, it could not ignore striking misfortunes and vicissitudes befalling Vietnam’s sports industry, especially football, after a series of scandals and embarrassing events came to light, apart from achievements of the sports industry in the year 2011.
From 10,326 down to 7,395
Statistical numbers on the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) website www.vff.org.vn show that average attendance per match at V-League in 2009 was 10,326. It fell to 8,297 in 2010 and 7,395 in 2011.
Nevertheless, violence and allegations of bribes have kept on increasing in recent years, leading to the bosses of six out of 14 clubs in the Vietnam’s top-tier V-League publicizing their plan to abandon the league for disappointment.
5 times more than Thai clubs in investment
“Each football club in Thailand spends averagely US$1 million a season but here in Vietnam, a club pays $5 million. And the result is our fans are turning their back on us,” V-League club Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC owner Doan Nguyen Duc announced at a VFF meeting three months ago.
“The main reasons come from the organizing board under the VFF, corruption in refereeing and poor discipline,” he added.
According to Duc, average investments by all 14 V-League clubs in a season reaches VND1 trillion (US$48.5 million).
US$1 million bonus
A bonus of US$1 million finds no winner.
Ahead of the 26th SEA Games held last month, two sponsors Doan Nguyen Duc and Saigon Jewelry Company CEO Le Hung Dung each promised $500,000 to the Vietnamese national U-23 football team should it bring home the trophy.
The reward went unclaimed. The team finished fourth at the tournament, triggering allegations of match fixing, which is still under police examination.
A drop in Vietnam football fans at SEA Games
In 2009 and before, around a thousand Vietnamese football fans flocked to SEA Games host nation to support their home team – U-23 Vietnam. But less than half that number bothered to travel to Indonesia to root for their home team at the 26th SEA Games.
Red cards going up
The total number of red cards released in the 2011 V-League games surged up to 63, almost a half more than the 2010 season, with 44 red cards.
It was even more than the 2009 season which had become a record year in which 52 red cards were issued.
SEA Games target of 70 gold medals
Vietnam’s sports authorities set a lower target for their athletes at the 26th SEA Games, which saw Vietnam clinching 70 gold medals.
In 2003 when Vietnam hosted the games, it landed at the top of the medal tally, with 158 gold medals. Thailand, with 99 golds, came in second and Indonesia third with 55 golds.
At the 2009 SEA Games, Vietnam won 83 gold medals after leader Thailand with 86. At the 2005 edition hosted in the Philippines, Vietnam came third with 71 golds.
A target recoils backward.
Nguyen Tien Minh
Vietnam’s badminton ace Nguyen Tien Minh was one of the two sports celebrities who raised the most expectations in the public but in the end walked away almost ‘empty-handed.’
Ranked number 8th in the world by the World Badminton Federation, Minh was defeated by the world’s 43rd player Derek Wong in the quarterfinals of the 26th SEA Games last month in Indonesia.
Earlier, Minh had been beaten by Ajay Jayaram, number 25th in the world, at the Super Series Japan.
Pham Van Mach
Star bodybuilder Pham Van Mach dealt another big blow of disappointment to Vietnamese fans in 2011.
Crowning the world’s championship titles for two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010 in the 55kg event, Mach was highly expected to carry the title for the third time. Yet he failed to extend his winning streak in 2011.
Too busy with his involvement in the entertainment show Cap Doi Hoan Hao (Perfect Couple) on television, Mach was unable to maintain his in-form status and gained five kilograms in weight. He made no impression during his performance at the 60kg event at the World Bodybuilding Championship last month in Malaysia.