Vietnam’s young footballers get rock-star welcome home

Vietnamese celebrate in downtown Hanoi after their team defeated Iraq in the AFC U-23 Championship quarterfinal. (AFP)
Updated 28 January 2018
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Vietnam’s young footballers get rock-star welcome home

HANOI: Vietnam’s U-23 football squad got a rapturous welcome home Sunday from thousands of fans lining the streets of the capital, even though they fell short of a championship win.
The underdogs became overnight celebrities in the football-crazy nation when they reached the finals of the U-23 Asian Football Confederation tournament in China on Saturday.
Undeterred by their 2-1 loss to Uzbekistan, crowds massed to catch a glimpse of the players, who were expected to meet Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc later.
“I wanted my children to learn from the wonderful strong will of those young footballers,” said Tran Thuy An, who had been waiting for hours on a flyover for the team bus to pass by.
Surrounded by fans and well-wishers who shrugged off light rain, the double-decker took five hours to reach the city center from the airport, a journey which normally takes 40 minutes.
“This amazing parade has never happened in Vietnam,” said state-run Vietnam Television in an hours-long live broadcast, commenting on the sea of red and gold in the city.
Vietnam defied the odds to reach the final, blowing past regional heavyweights Iraq and Qatar.
Observers praised the way the team united the country. “There have never been that many national flags in Hanoi in decades,” said 77-year-old resident Ha Anh Tue.
Tue compared the outpouring to the liberation from the French in 1954 and reunification after the Vietnam war ended in 1975.
“U-23 made history for Vietnam’s sports,” Tue told AFP.
Captain Luong Xuan Truong was humbled by the overwhelming level of support.
“I feel amazed,” he told afc.com. “We were really happy to see them in the stadium. They have always tried to support us and brought along a significant energy. I hope they didn’t catch a cold. Once again, I want to say ‘thank you’. I want the supporters to keep supporting us and in the future, we will try to bring Vietnam further.”
Xuan Truong vowed to better himself with his club in the V.League, and already has his eyes set on the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation Cup in November.
“I will try to improve and perform with my club,” he said. “As for the national team, we have AFF Cup to look forward to, and we will try to win the tournament.”
— AFP


Platini released from custody after police questioning

Updated 19 June 2019
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Platini released from custody after police questioning

  • French authorities haven’t announced any charges against Platini
  • The authorities also questioned a sport adviser from the previous French president’s administration

PARIS: Former UEFA president Michel Platini was released from custody in the early hours of Wednesday after being questioned as part of a corruption investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
His communication team said that Platini’s detention ended at 12:30 a.m. local time.
Platini had denied any wrongdoing and French authorities did not announce any charges against the former France and Juventus player.
“It was long, but given the number of questions it could not be different,” Platini said after his release. “They asked me questions about the 2016 Euro, the World Cup in Russia, the World Cup in Qatar, the Paris Saint-Germain, FIFA.”
Also questioned Tuesday were Sophie Dion, a sports adviser in former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration, and Claude Gueant, the former secretary general of the Elysee presidential palace under Sarkozy.
Ahead of the FIFA vote, Sarkozy hosted a meeting in November 2010 that brought Platini together with Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, then the crown prince of Qatar and now its ruling emir. Al-Thani also owns the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, and Sarkozy frequently attends its games.
Qatar beat the long-favored United States 14 to 8 when FIFA selected the host country for the 2022 World Cup
As head of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, Platini was the continent’s top representative on the FIFA committee that picked Qatar.
French prosecutors are known to be investigating an array of winning bids for major sports events, including the 2018 World Cup, awarded to Russia, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and track and field world championships.

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READ MORE: TIMELINE: The trail of corruption allegations surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

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