Thursday, December 22, 2005

Vietnamese Word of the Week: Bán Độ

Bán Độ: to fix a match:

After five days of repeated denial and intense interrogation by police officers, Van Quyen, 20, admitted to collaborating with a local gambling ring for US$80,000. The gang is allegedly masterminded by former national player Nguyen Phi Hung.

The story came to light after several players of Vietnam's U23 team revealed they were lured by Van Quyen to rig the 23rd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games match between Vietnam and Myanmar on Nov. 24.

Forward Quoc Vuong was also arrested for being involved in the case. Other players also face questioning.

That wasn't the only time a game was fixed:

In the semifinal game with Malaysia Dec. 2, Van Truong lost control of the ball 18 times in the first half. He and his ‘teammate’ Bat Hieu coordinated to cough up the ball allowing Azlan Ismail in the 33rd minute to open the score.

The behind-the-scenes betting gang wanted a draw during the official 90 minutes of the game to be able to collect on all of the bets made with them.

Cong Vinh, playing honestly, broke through the rival defensive and took his side to a 2-1 lead, causing the four suspected players to make more mistakes, but other honest team members played cautious and covered them.

It wasn't just the players. The coaches were in on the action:

At least one member of the Vietnamese football team’s coaching board was informed of the plot two and a half hours before the match against Malaysia, confirmed a source close to Thanh Nien.

The source said a footballer on the team heard of the news and immediately reported it to his assistant coach, who never notified coach [Alfred] Riedl.

The Vietnamese people I know are really pissed off about it. They take football seriously. So am I, for several reasons. There's my wife, Vietnamese that she is. I also happen to live here, which color my sympathies somewhat. But it's not just that.

There was a little bit of football-related homework I gave a fortnight ago to some children (ages 10-11) in a local school. It contained such questions such as "Who is your favorite football player?" And I remember the name "Van Quyen" (or I should say, "Văn Quyến") coming up in answers a few times. The kiddies want to believe in their national team, and who could have blamed them?

I don't wonder at all how they feel now.