Vietnam’s top football league ended on Sunday with Binh Duong claiming the championship title and Dong Nai relegated to the lower division.
A noteworthy point of the 2015 season of the V-League 1 was that supporters paid more attention to the result of the relegation battle among the bottom-ranked clubs than that of the top teams.
Binh Duong won the title with 52 points, followed by Hanoi T&T at the second place and Thanh Hoa at the third.
Dong Nai were relegated to the V-League 2 after losing 1-4 to hosts Quang Ninh in the 26th round, earning a total of 21 points.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai and Dong Thap, the two teams trying to escape relegation, managed to stay in the V-League 1 with 24 points each.
But fans could predict these results even before the V-League 1 with 14 competing teams reached the last three rounds.
Those clubs at the bottom of the table, including Hoang Anh Gia Lai, Dong Thap, and Can Tho, had accumulated necessary points to push ‘lone wolves’ Dong Nai off the V-League 1 boat.
Rumor had it among supporters that those teams won points ‘donated’ by their ‘friendly’ rivals in previous matches.
‘Donating’ points to keep relations between V-League 1 clubs has long been a headache for the organizers of the V-League 1 and supporters often call it ‘play-acting.’
Clubs that have earned enough points to stay in the competition but are ineligible to compete for titles tend to ‘slack off’ and lose games with teams that are in desperate need of points to avoid being relegated.
In the 25th round last week, Dong Tam Long An played a match without any striker in their front line when taking on Hoang Anh Gia Lai, as the former wanted to ‘gift’ one point to the latter who were battling relegation then.
A goalless draw brought each of them one point indeed.
During another match in the penultimate round between Can Tho and Dong Thap, their fans shouted for the referee to “end the game” in the 40th minute because they knew the players of both sides needed just a draw. And the final result was 1-1.
It was alleged that Hoang Anh Gia Lai, Can Tho, and Dong Thap implicitly ‘shook hands’ to give points to one another in many previous rounds.
Coach Tran Binh Su of Dong Nai admitted that his men were ‘alone.’
“It is normal for a team to win or lose game, to get promoted or relegated,” he said on Sunday.
“But I am sorry for being unable to lead the team out of the relegation battle.”
Su revealed that he had been lured many times to get involved “in the game of donating points” but he refused to join.