Binh Duong footballers observed a minute of silence before their match on Sunday to commemorate the death of Argentinean teammate Molina Gaston Eduardo, who had died of a drug overdose two days earlier.
But it is not the first, and many worry it won't be the last, foreign footballer the country will be mourning due to drug use.
On February 26, the 32-year-old striker was found dead in a room at the Sao Nam Hotel on Pham Ngu Lao Street in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.
Senior lieutenant colonel Tran Van Ngoc of HCMC police confirmed the overdose and said a packet of methamphetamine was found in Eduardo's room, but it was not made clear whether that drug was the cause of the overdose or if it was heroin, as previously speculated.
Investigators said Eduardo had rented a room at Sao Nam on February 24. He used to get out until late before returning drunk, they said.
A hotel employee said he had asked for laundry service on February 25, saying he would return to Binh Duong the next day. Another hotel employee then found him dead on the floor of his room the next day after a friend of his asked that they check on him.
The body of the ill-fated footballer was brought to An Binh Hospital in District 5 for a postmortem examination.
Thanh Nien informed Tran Van Duong, managing director of Binh Duong Football Club, of Eduardo's passing on the day of his death.
"We hadn't been able to control Molina's behavior recently," said Duong.
"He missed practice with the club three days in a row, saying he was practicing elsewhere. He also failed to write a required self-disciplinary report after contacting Hanoi ACB Coach Mauricio without permission from our club," he added.
Eduardo came to Vietnam in 2008 and played for SHB Da Nang when the club claimed the V-League and the National Championships in 2009. However, he was sacked the same year for breaking club rules.
The striker then signed a VND1.8 billion (US$96,774) contract to play for Binh Duong. He scored a goal to help the club win 4-2 over Thai Chonburi and advance to the Asian Football Championship semifinal for the first time.
Tshamala, a Congolese player at Dong Tam Long An Club, said he was not surprised by Eduardo's death.
"Many foreign and local footballers in the V-League are drug users. Many of them use intravenous drugs," he said.
"Some players were lured by local teammates to use drug and ecstasy but most of the ones I know used drugs before they came to Vietnam," he told The Thao & Van Hoa newspaper, adding that they often used drug after matches, at night clubs and hotels.
A Tuesday editorial by Sai Gon Giai Phong (SGGP) newspaper said many foreign footballers used performance-enhancing drugs in Vietnam.
The paper said some felt it was the only way to make a living as they were not good enough to be professionals in their home countries.
The report said that foreign players often gathered at bars in the Pham Ngu Lao area to drink after games.
Part of the problem is that the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) does not test for drugs after each match.
"Many foreign players in Vietnam have become more daring in using drugs," SGGP said.
The editorial also blamed the clubs for failing to discipline their players after paying big money to foreign footballers.
Doctor Dong Xuan Lam of Hoang Anh Gia Lai Club said regular dope tests wouldn't cost much and could be easily done after matches.
"Random dope tests for both teams after each match would not be a waste and are now more important than ever," he said.
Lam, who used to be a doctor for the national team, said the tests could make VFF lose face if national footballers were caught. He said rich players normally used drugs on Vietnam.
But he said his club would welcome such tests to keep players clean and help fight against drugs in general.
RECENT INCIDENTS INVOLVING FOREIGN FOOTBALLERS IN VIETNAM
"¢ January 2009: Song Lam Nghe An ends contracts with two probationary foreign players, Kankham and Gordon, after finding them using drugs.
"¢ October 2007: Cameroonian player Atangala Clement dies of a heart attack at a practice session while on probation with Military Zone 4 Club.
"¢ April 2006: Belgian Ulilzwelimena Vedaste committs suicide during his probationary stage at Dong Nai Club.
"¢ 2005: Majid Musisi, a player for Da Nang in 2003 and 2004, dies of AIDS in his hometown in Uganda. It is believed he contracted the disease while in Vietnam.