Hooliganism in the name of love for football is not to be tolerated

Friday, 2016-12-09 12:38:55
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A large crowd of supporters is always a welcoming image at any match of the Vietnamese team both at home and abroad.
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NDO – The second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal between Vietnam and Indonesia at My Dinh Stadium ended in a 2-2 draw after extra time, sending Indonesia into the final with a 4-3 aggregate score. Despite failing to advance, the host players still received warm sentiment and words of encouragement from home fans along with objective assessments from the public about the real capacity of a national team led by a domestic coach, for the courage and persistence they demonstrated during the 120 minutes of play.

A large crowd of supporters is always a welcoming image at any match of the Vietnamese team both at home and abroad. My Dinh Stadium was full of local fans on the evening of December 7, who joined together to create constant waves of red colour in the stands with a large national flag flying high amid the chants of national songs and tremendous cheers. It could be said that supporters have become a source of encouragement and a driving force helping coach Nguyen Huu Thang’s players stand firm during a tough encounter whilst being put under a lot of pressure.

There should be nothing to regret about the Vietnamese footballers following such a tense and emotional match. It is a pity that a small number of home fans made several shameful gestures contrary to the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play before, during and after the semifinal tie. As the main referee seriously punished Vietnamese players for a number of offences, particularly at the end of the game, many local supporters responded in an antisocial fashion, screaming, cursing and throwing bottles, shoes and even sandals onto the field. Some groups of Vietnamese fans even shouted vulgar words together aimed at the Indonesian players. A number of flares were lit up in the stands after the goals regardless of the ban, accompanied by foul-mouthed comments on social media during and after the match calling for violence aimed at the referee and the guest team. The last straw was that as the victorious team left the stadium, a mob of Vietnamese football fans attacked their bus, throwing rocks, breaking a window and injuring one of the visiting team’s staff.

In addition to those offensive and unacceptable behaviours, the uncivilised conduct of a number of local fans while queuing to buy tickets should also be criticised and condemned. There seemed to be no room for the civilised queuing culture, but just for shoving and attempts to push down the gate and the protective barrier to secure a ticket at any cost. The same kind of behaviour was also reported in the process of fans’ entering the field through the ticket gate, with the act of giving way to children, women and the elderly ignored.

Given this fact, it shows that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done by the Vietnamese authorities in communicating, educating and raising awareness of civilised lifestyles and well-mannered conduct in public places. The image of Vietnamese football has been deteriorating as a consequence of such shameful behaviour. Without timely preventive measures taken, selfless and noble sportsmanship will fade away, giving room to trends prone to violence, after which the love for football will become distorted into bitterness and hatred.

Football is an appealing game to compete not only between clubs and teams, but also among countries. However, competition features both winning and losing, and what is important is how we play and how we support our favourite teams. There is a strong hope that managers, players and fans will constantly strive to preserve the image of Vietnamese football, demonstrating the strong will and value of a nation which always stands up and moves forward after failures.