Tuesday, 24/08/2021 08:21

The Local Game: Is one man happy the V.League 1 season has been scrapped?

Văn Trần Hoàn isn't shy about letting his opinion be known. Photo

Peter Cowan

The Pope’s a Catholic, water is wet, and the 2021 V.League 1 season is over.

News came out over the weekend that the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) has ended the season after 12 games, weeks after the Việt Nam Professional Football (VPF) company had announced a postponement until February next year.

As sad as it was to have the final nail put in the coffin, with COVID-19 case numbers continuing to increase and lockdowns becoming stricter it was no real surprise.

It’s hard to see a local authority anywhere in the country allowing a match to be played in the near future, so in a way the VFF’s decision will likely spare a few blushes.

While everyone in Vietnamese football will be devastated that it’s come to this, at least one man is probably feeling pretty vindicated.

I’ve seen Văn Trần Hoàn, president of V.League 1 side Hải Phòng FC, referred to as Hoàn “Cannon” by several Vietnamese media outlets in recent days, and the nickname is apt judging by his explosive comments.

Hoàn came out strongly against the VPF’s now-abandoned plan to resume the season next February and said the financial strain of a suspension would “kill clubs”.

He was clearly very worried about the financial impact, as last month Hoàn proposed the frankly ludicrous idea of having a one-off match between leaders Hoàng Anh Gia Lai and second-placed Viettel to decide the champions and finish the season.

In fact, Hoàn is so concerned about his club’s finances that in an interview with an online publication, he said he wants VPF officials to pay for tickets when they visit Lạch Tray Stadium. He told the same publication that the VPF “doesn’t respect clubs”.

Those comments landed him in some hot water with the VPF, but when Hoàn and Hải Phòng received an official letter demanding an explanation for his comments, he didn’t back down.

Instead, he released an open letter running to almost 1,300 words defending his position, calling the postponement an arbitrary and insensitive decision, and even openly speculating if an “interest group” had influenced the decision.

Say what you want about Hoàn “Cannon”, but the man clearly has passion, something that can’t be said about a lot of those in charge of football clubs, even if it is passion for saving money.

To be fair to him, Hoàn is probably gutted the season has had to be scrapped and is taking what he sees as the best, most pragmatic course of action.

If the VPF has any sense they’ll let this story die quietly instead of attempting to punish Hoàn as let’s face it, he’s gotten his way.

The season is scrapped, clubs up and down the country are terminating their foreign players’ contracts and local players have taken huge salary cuts and may even be without pay altogether until football starts again.

Nguyễn Hải Huy, captain of Than Quảng Ninh, even posted a photo of himself peeling shrimp for his family’s business and while there was a little black humour about the post, the reality is plenty of players will be thrown into financial precarity over the coming months.

Sadly there’s no easy solution, as Hoàn was right to say postponement would have devastated clubs financially, while scrapping the season will do the same to players.

Reading between the lines, it was the VFF and its president Lê Khánh Hải (also chairman of the State President’s office) that stepped in and made the decision to end the season.

Here’s hoping the VFF can be just as hands-on when clubs and players need a helping hand to get back on their feet and kick off again in 2022. VNS

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