Viet team concede open goals in protest

A screen grab from a YouTube video shows the Long An players (in white) standing still and allowing Ho Chi Minh City players to run through and score.
A screen grab from a YouTube video shows the Long An players (in white) standing still and allowing Ho Chi Minh City players to run through and score.PHOTO: YOUTUBE SCREEN-GRAB

HANOI • A Vietnamese football team face disciplinary action, after allowing their opponents to walk three goals into an unguarded net in protest at the award of a disputed last-minute penalty.

In a sporting revision of "the mannequin challenge", players from Long An stood stock still and refused to tackle their Ho Chi Minh City rivals in a televised V-League game late on Sunday.

The extraordinary protest came after a spot kick was awarded against Long An for a soft-looking foul on an opposition striker, with the game poised at 2-2 and minutes to play.

After a prolonged argument with the referee, Long An's goalkeeper led the revolt, turning his back on the penalty-taker, who slotted the ball into the goal to make it 3-2.

It was the third disputed refereeing decision of the game which led to goals for Ho Chi Minh City.

The visitors continued their protest, refusing to budge from the kick-off to allow the home team's players to stride through their ranks to score two more goals. The game ended 5-2 and Long An have since faced anger from officials in the communist country.

"These actions seriously violated competition rules and are considered non-sporting and uncivilised," Vietnam's sports ministry said in an online statement yesterday.

It has asked the Vietnam Football Federation to "seriously punish" those involved, it added.

Tuoi Tre newspaper yesterday reported that club chairman Vo Thanh Nhiem submitted his resignation letter after the scandal.

"Though I did not ask the players to do so, being the head of the club... I take the responsibility and have resigned," he was quoted as saying.

His side remain bottom of the 14-team V-League, while Ho Chi Minh City are eighth.

The league is Vietnam's leading professional competition. But it has a history of alleged match-fixing scandals - while footballers and fans are notorious for their extreme reactions to disputed refereeing decisions.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'Viet team concede open goals in protest'. Print Edition | Subscribe