Hai Phong will play without its two Jamaican strikers in the next three matches in Vietnam’s top flight V.League as part of punitive measures handed down by the Vietnam Football Federation on Thursday.
Diego Fagan and Anthony Stevens, the team's only foreign players, were also fined VND10 million (US$450) each.
In the 68th minute of Hai Phong's match against Quang Ninh on Sunday, referee Vo Minh Tri issued a second yellow card to Stevens for faking a fall in the box.
Before leaving, Stevens, in an act apparently meant to protest the decision, turned toward the referee and bowed down. His teammate Fagan did the same thing.
On his Facebook, Stevens said he was angry because he was unfairly punished.
“I know referees are only human and anyone can make mistakes. I will forgive you for your mistakes as I hope you forgive me for mine. I normally joke with my teammate that way in training. I had no clear idea what it meant in Vietnamese traditions,” he wrote.
The Vietnam Football Federation said the players' behavior was inappropriate.
Bowing and praying are important in Vietnamese culture and sacred rituals.
Hai Phong lost 1-3 to Quang Ninh and dropped to the second place. Da Nang took the lead after beating Becamex Binh Duong 1-0.
VFF also fined Hai Phong’s communication manager Nguyen Trung Chien VND10 million and suspended him for three matches. After the match, Chien reportedly went to the field to insult and threaten the referees and supervisors.
Also in round 18, Becamex Binh Duong’s coach assistant Truong Van Loi was suspended for two matches and fined VND5 million for opposing the referee in a match against Da Nang.
V.League organizer Vietnam Professional Football has also decided that it will not hire referee Phung Dinh Dung for the rest of the season, following a match between Khanh Hoa and Quang Nam
The FIFA-approved referee has admitted he was wrong to disallow a goal by Khanh Hoa’s Nigerian striker Iheroume Uche in the dying minutes.
Dung said he made the decision because Khanh Hoa did not play nicely. Two Quang Nam players were injured and a teammate kicked the ball out. But Khanh Hoa did not return the ball to Quang Nam and began an attack instead.
Nguyen Van Mui, head of the national soccer referees board, said Dung should have allowed the goal anyway.
Referee Phung Dinh Dung rejected a goal by Khanh Hoa's striker Iheroumi Uche in a match against Quang Nam on July 30. Photo: Ba Duy