Thai ball used at Vietnam soccer league over organizer-domestic sponsor dispute

February 22, 2016 | 10:32
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A ball produced by a Thai firm has started to be used at the 2016 V-League 1, which kicked off on Saturday, as a result of disagreement between the organizer and a local sponsor.

The ball provided by Thailand’s Grand Sport was used in the opening games of the league, Vietnam’s top-flight football (soccer) tournament, instead of the one made by Vietnamese Dong Luc Group, which had been used in the past decade.

Dong Luc could not find a place for its ball UHV 2.07, which meets international standards, this season because of a dispute between the organizer, Vietnam Professional Football JSC (VPF), and the group, a VPF representative said.

Grand Sport and the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) signed a five-year contract, according to which the Thai brand will provide equipment and clothing for the training and competing of Vietnam’s national football team, in November 2015, with Nike being the sponsor of the preceding five years.

In 2016, Grand Sport continues to shock the domestic sports industry by becoming the ball supplier for the V-League 1, the V-League 2, and the National Cup.

Its ball, called Primero One+, was used in previous seasons of Thailand’s football league but is replaced by a newer version, Primero Mundo 3, this season.

Primero Mundo 3 is not used at the 2016 V-League 1 because the contract between the VPF and Grand Sport was signed in an urgent manner, causing the Thai firm to be unable to provide a sufficient number of balls on time, Cao Van Chong, general director of the Vietnamese company, explained.

Le Van Thanh, board chairman of Dong Luc Group, expressed his surprise at the VPF’s decision while talking to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Saturday.

“I was upset to see that the ball of Dong Luc Group, which has been exported to many countries in the world, cannot be used in the most significant football championship of Vietnam,” Thanh said.

The disagreement arose as Dong Luc Group wanted to sign a three-year contract while the VPF preferred a two-year deal, the chairman continued.

It is a shame that the organizer of the 2016 V-League 1 ignored its partnership of over 10 years old with Dong Luc and opened its wallet to promote a foreign brand in Vietnam, he complained.

A VPF official told Tuoi Tre that it was difficult for the company to make this decision, adding that Dong Luc had failed to provide their products as per their contracts for many times.

“According to our agreement, Dong Luc had to supply the VPF with 3,500 balls per annum. But none of the balls were given to the company during the 2015 league, forcing us to use those left from the 2014 season,” the official said.

Despite the company’s efforts, its failure to reach a consensus with the sports brand resulted in the VPF turning to another sponsor to meet the schedule of the 2016 tournament, he elaborated.

“We cannot let the unprofessionalism of a business partner affect the whole league,” he asserted.

But chairman Thanh refuted what the VPF official said, underlining that the league’s organizer was the one who was “unprofessional.”

Dong Luc was ready to sign a new contract with the VPF, suggesting extending its duration to three years rather than two years as proposed by the organizer, he added.

“We then prepared to hand over 2,000 balls to the VPF but they never responded to our suggestion and suddenly signed a deal with another company. That’s unprofessional!” Thanh insisted.

The 2016 V-League 1 is scheduled for February 20 to September 18.

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