Football gambling a possibility in Vietnam

Vietnam is considering whether to accept legal bets on football, according to a report by China's Xinhua newsagency quoted by Soccer Investor (9 January 2006). Authorities now believe a betting business would earn funds for the country's sports bodies and help to prevent rampant illegal betting. Vietnamese newspaper Pioneer is reported to have claimed that a document sent to the Vietnam Football Federation on 5 January by Nguyen Danh Thai, director of the country's National Sports and Physical Training Committee, said the committee will submit to the government a scheme on launching the service for approval.

Thai claims that legal soccer betting would help to fund local soccer and contain illegal betting. The move comes immediately after the country's biggest sports scandal when Vietnam national team players admitted taking money from bookies in the recent win against Burma at the South East Asia Games in the Philippines. Players are suspected of colluding with gamblers to hold down the score in a second match against Malaysia, although most sources contend the final that Thailand won was not fixed.

Since August 2005, local police have uncovered some 50 local corrupt referees. Although betting on sports is illegal in Vietnam, it is common, especially in urban areas. Vietnamese police have recently detected several cases in which local bookmakers paid players to change the results of important matches. To date 19 out of 60 local referees and teams' officials who have allegedly involved in match-fixing over the past two years have been prosecuted.