Hai Phong fined VND60 million for hooliganism

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The Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) fined Hai Phong Cement VND60 million (US$3,150) on Thursday for allowing its home fans to wreak havoc at the stadium on Sunday (April 4).

During the V-League seventh-round match against visitors Hanoi T&T (Hai Phong lost 0-1), Hai Phong fans, notorious for their rowdy behavior, threw plastic bottles, plastic bags of water and shoes on to the field.

The home fans abused referee Nguyen Trong Thu several times throughout the match, ignoring the stadium management's appeals for calm, made via the loudspeaker.

After the match, Hai Phong players entered an area near the press conference room and hundreds of home fans surrounded the locked door.

Many of them called the players' names and verbally abused them with obscene language. One fan even broke a glass window with a stone.

Though VFF regulation 64 clearly states that the penalty for consistently rowdy behavior on the part of home fans is closure of the stadium and a lowering of the club's points, neither of the two penalties were upheld this time.

After a meeting of almost five hours on Wednesday, VFF's penalty department decided to fine Hai Phong VND60 million.

The department said the club was fined VND35 million for the throwing of objects onto the field and VND25 million for the abuse of the players, both home and away, and the referees.

Many observers considered the penalty too light. Chief of the penalty department Nguyen Hai Huong said the decision was made based on reports by match supervisor Nguyen Trong Giap and referee Nguyen Trong Thu.

Thu said the disorderly crowd hadn't influence his work during the match.

Giap's report said the home fans threw plastic bags of water from Stand B on onto the field at the 88th minute and from Stand A to the visitors' dugout after the match had ended.

However, Giap's report missed the fact that Hai Phong fans threw objects on to the field several times beginning from the 34th minute of the match.

The penalty has upset pundits and the public, both of which say the punishment was not serious enough, given the gravity of what happened on Sunday. Television station VTV1 ran a particularly scathing critique of the decision.

The incident is the twelfth time in three years that the Hai Phong fans have come close to rioting during games at Lach Tray Stadium.

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