Before joining Quang Ninh to play Hai Phong FC in a V. League game on March 28, midfielder Nguyen Hai Huy received VND3 million ($130.50) from his mother-in-law, who knew he had received neither salary nor bonus from the club for ages.
“I was injured for nearly a year and didn’t get paid. To be honest, I was depending on my wife financially and I also borrowed money from my family to survive,” Huy said.
On the field, Quang Ninh players still give their best for the club, which has beaten many strong teams including HCMC FC, Hai Phong FC and Thanh Hoa FC. After the first six rounds of V. League 2021, the club is placed second on the table with 12 points, one less than leaders Hoang Anh Gia Lai. Off the field, however, players are struggling since none have received their salaries for eight months and bonuses for a year.
Mac Hong Quan, a Vietnamese-Czech attacker, is also out of money. In the past four months, he has lived on financial support sent by his wife from the Czech Republic.
Not every player is as lucky as Quan, with the rest of Quang Ninh’s squad depending on their earnings to feed their families.
To pay for his daughter’s tuition, defender Duong Van Khoa has asked support from club officials, but to no avail. His wife had to borrow money from her mom to pay for schooling.
Twenty-year-old Bui Ngoc Long did not even have money to buy deodorant, calling on his teammate’s wife to borrow some.
During the Tet holidays this year, Long and other young players decided to stay behind on the club’s campus instead of going home, since they were out of money.
Due to the arduous financial situation, several key players have left the club, but young players cannot, since they are strapped to their contracts. According to Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) regulations, academy players under 23 would have to pay compensation if breaching their contract terms.
Some players have remained with Quang Ninh because of what the club had done for them in the past. Midfielder Nguyen Sa was supported 100 percent financially in 2019 when struggling with amyotrophia, a muscular disease. Hai Huy also got the same support when he broke his leg and had to sit out for a year. Hong Quan was taken in by the club when his former club An Giang FC got relegated, leaving him with nowhere to go.
After a long time of non-payment, Quang Ninh players decided to go on a strike during training Wednesday. Officials of Quang Ninh Culture and Sports Department promised players would get paid this week. However, they would most likely only receive a few months of salary instead of full payment.
“We had no choice but to go on a strike. The players have given all they got to help the club score good results. We want a bit of support so we don’t have to struggle like this anymore,” Huy said.
The skipper affirmed that despite the challenging situation, the players would still give their best when facing Becamex Binh Duong on Saturday evening. Binh Duong coach Phan Thanh Hung had left Quang Ninh earlier this year after the club failed to pay outstanding salaries.