The management of Vietnam's top-notch football league has dismissed match-fixing rumors relating to a match in the third round of the country’s premier football tournament V-League on the weekend.
“Normally, footballers play to win and not to earn just one point (in a draw),” said Pham Ngoc Vien, director of the Vietnam Professional Football Jointstock Company.
In the match in question, Hanoi T&T was held by underdog Quang Nam with a 4-4 draw on January 17, in which Quang Nam scored three goals in the last ten minutes thanks to a lot of mistakes by Hanoi T&T defense.
After the match, local fans suspected that the result was fixed by some players.
Vien said if there had been match fixing, there would have been a win for one team, so they could earn three points.
“Last season, Hanoi T&T had a difficult draw against Quang Nam,” he said.
“Football always has surprising elements, Hanoi had a surprising lost and it is easy to understand,” he said.
Nguyen Hup, director of Quang Nam FC, said his players had a excellent match and playing well in the last minutes.
Both coaches, Phan Thanh Hung of Hanoi T&T and Hoang Van Phuc of Quang Nam, also rejected match-fixing accusations.
“Our defence made minor mistakes in the begining and we suffered a few goals, but they later played very well,” Phuc said.
“Our team played with strong spirit even after we were three goals behind. We could have won if our offense had taken all the chances,” he said.
Meanwhile, Coach Hung said his players learnt a painful lesson from the match.
“We still have many things to do. We need more players with stronger mind to earn a win,” he said.
Match-fixing accusations have risen as it has long plagued Vietnamese soccer, as reflected in the commonplace arrests of coaches, bookmakers and players. Soccer is the most popular sport and gambling is rampant, despite being strictly illegal.
Police made dozens of arrests during the last World Cup and carried out raids on underground gangs who had at least VND6.5 trillion (US$307 million) under management.
In April, Vissai Ninh Binh withdrew from the V-League over a match-fixing scandal in the AFC Cup.
Vietnam is considering legalizing football betting.