The Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) asked second-tier First Division club Tien Giang on Thursday to report on a recent match-fixing controversy.
VFF asked the Mekong Delta club to investigate incidents surrounding a fifth-round match between Tien Giang and TDC Binh Duong on Saturday (Mar 13), when a text message was sent to the mobile phones of the club's four best players: captain Quoc Anh, goalkeeper Thanh Hai, striker Phuc Hiep and defender Nhat Tan.
The message read, "Tan, Phuc Hiep, Quoc Anh, Hai, what do you think about a VND100 million offer for the next match? Just say OK if you agree"¦"
Quoc Anh showed the message to head coach Nguyen Van Thinh, who has since resigned due to the club's poor performance.
Thinh reported the message to club manager Nguyen Nam Hung. Thinh then encouraged the players to do their best to show that they were not involved in the case. However, Tien Giang suffered a 1-2 home defeat.
Hung said the team would report the case to VFF on Friday. "Province officials agree with us that nobody would organize match-fixing so publicly.
"Also, the amount offered was small compared to the rewards the club would give the players if they took a win.The text message must have aimed to cause confusion and separation among the club, especially between coach Thinh and me."
Hung said the club would cooperate closely with police to identify the sender of the message.
Hung added that the club held a meeting on Wednesday with all the players in attendance. Several players said the text message aimed to arouse suspicion among the team members.
But some players are reportedly not happy with coach Thinh and they have been accused by fans of not doing their best on the field.
Critics of coach Thinh say he brought players with him from Nghe An to Tien Giang and was paying them higher salaries than the rest of the team even though they were not better players than the team members they replaced.
Some players have been accused of playing poorly so that the team's extra losses would force Thinh to resign.
Thinh said he was responsible for the club's losses and doubted the text message was a real attempt at match fixing. He too believed it was a hoax meant to cause confusion and in-fighting.