Football in Vietnam

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Association football in Vietnam is run by the Vietnam Football Federation. The federation administers the Vietnam national football team, as well as the V-League, Vietnamese First Division, Vietnamese Second Division and Vietnamese Third Division.

Football is unarguably the main and most popular sport in Vietnam.[1] Its annual V-League competition has taken place since 1980 till now (except in 1988 and 1999).

When Vietnam was split into North Vietnam and South Vietnam, two national teams existed. The North Vietnamese team was not very active, playing almost exclusively other Communist countries between 1956 and 1966 whilst the South Vietnamese team took part in the first two AFC Asian Cup finals, finishing fourth both times.


Football came into Vietnam with the French in 1896. It was first introduced in Cochinchina (Nam Kỳ), and then spread to other parts of the colony - the central and northern parts.

Until 1954[edit]


The first people who played football in Saigon were French civil servants, merchants and soldiers; some Vietnamese then picked it up. A club called Cercle Sportif Saigonnais (Saigon Sports Circle) was founded and later the oval-shaped ball was replaced by a round-shaped one and the games were played at the city park, called Jardin de la Ville (today Tao Đàn Park).

In 1905, a British warship named after King Alfred visited Saigon and its football team had a friendly match against a local team composed of Vietnamese and French players. This was considered as the first international football match in Vietnam.

E. Breton, a member of France's L'Union des Sociétés Français des Sports Athlétiques brought football rules into Vietnam in 1906, and as a chairman of Cercle Sportif Saigonnais, he reorganized the club similar to football clubs in France. Some other clubs started to appear, such as Infanterie, Saigon Sport, Athletic Club, Stade Militaire, Tabert Club. Local cups were soon held afterwards. As a well-trained team, Cercle Sportif Saigonnais won for many times, 1907, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1916.

Some Vietnamese learned the game's regulations and established their own teams. The first two Vietnamese teams founded in 1907 were Gia Định Sport run by Ba Vẻ and Phú Khai and Ngôi Sao Xanh (Blue Star) run by Nguyễn Đình Trị. These two teams then came together to form "Ngôi sao Gia Định" (Gia Định Star). Prior to 1920, it had defeated all other teams, including Cercle Sportif Saigonnais (in 1917), and became the champion.

Other teams include: Victoria Sportive, Commerce Sport, Jean Compte, Sport Cholonaise, Khánh Hội Sport, Tân Định Sport, Gò Vấp, Hiệp Hòa, Chợ Quán, Phú Nhuận, Đồng Nai, Enfants de Troupe; in other provinces: Thủ Dầu Một, Cần Thơ, Sóc Trăng, Sa Đéc, Gò Công, Châu Đốc, Mỹ Tho. New grounds were developed, namely Citadelle, Renault (in front of current Thống Nhất Stadium), Fourière, Mayer, and Marine.

Football fans and some leaders then managed to form the (Vietnamese) Department of Football. Nguyễn Đình Trị was elected as head of board of directors and the Department itself developed its own field by buying more land. At that time, there was already a French Department of Football, therefore the two departments had no cooperation but some matches as in Cochin China Championship. In a match between Cercle Sportif Saigonnais and Ngôi sao Gia Định in 1925, Paul Thi, Ngôi sao's player was dismissed by a French referee, that led to his everlasting suspension and further conflicts between the two departments. The Championship was then delayed for many years until 1932, in which six Vietnamese and three French teams took part.

Between 1925 and 1935, Ngôi sao Gia Định were known for many famous players, e.g. Sách, Thơm, Nhiều, Quý, Tịnh, Xường, Trung, Thi, Vi, Mùi. About 29 cups were held, in which Ngôi sao got the champion for 8 times.

The first woman football team appeared in Cần Thơ in 1932, called Cái Vồn. Several years later, another team called "Rạch Giá" was founded. In 1933, Cái Vồn had a match with men's Paul Bert team at Mayer Stadium, and the two-all draw became historic in Vietnamese football history.

Tonkinchina and the Central Zone[edit]

Football came to the North of Vietnam (or Tonkinchina) in about 1906–1907. Some local press told about matches played by Legion Đáp Cầu and Olympique Hải Phòng in 1909. On the first match, Olympique won by 2-1, but they failed by 8-1 next time. In February 1912, Hanoi Football club (Stade Hanoien) was founded. The team was composed of Vietnamese and French players.

1954-1975 period[edit]

Football activities in Vietnam were delayed during the World War II and the Indochina Wars and soon restored after 1954, when the Geneva Accord was signed, causing division between North and South Vietnam

North Vietnam[edit]

In North Vietnam, Thể Công team of People's Army was established on 23 September 1954. The national football team gained notable achievements at some regional events, such as Ganefo (Indonesia, 1963) and Asian Ganefo (Cambodia, 1966).

South Vietnam[edit]

By the late 1950s, the Southern football team became one of the four strongest teams in Asia, as they advanced into the final round of 1960 AFC Asian Cup together with South Korea, Israel and Republic of China. The team also won 10th Merdeka Cup in Malaysia, 1966.

Clubs AJS, Cảnh sát (Police), Tổng Tham Mưu (ARVN General Staff) and Quan Thuế (Customs) dominated the South's football until 1975.

Since 1975[edit]


Domestic leagues[edit]


Level Division
I V.League 1
14 clubs
↓↑ 1 club
II V.League 2
8 clubs
↓↑ 1 club
III Vietnamese Second Division
18 clubs
↓↑ 2-3 clubs
III Vietnamese Third Division
Not limited

At the end of the 2012 season, the organizing power was transferred from the VFF to the VPF (Vietnamese Professional Football), and the V.League was initially changed to the Super League, although this name is short-lived and the league was renamed back to V.League later in the season. The first division was renamed the V.League 2. At the same time, many clubs found themselves in financial and sponsor issues, and many clubs withdrew, merge, bought another or failed to meet requirements for leagues. As a result, the number of clubs in each league changed dramatically. The 2013 V.League 1 contains 12 clubs, the 2013 V.League 2 contains 8 clubs, and the 2013 Vietnamese Second Division contains 17 clubs with Group A containing only five teams, while the other two groups contained six teams each as usual.


Level Division
I Vietnam women's football championship
6 clubs

Domestic cups[edit]

Asian eligibility[edit]

Uniquely, Vietnam has two chances to acquire Asian gold, as the V-League winner is eligible for the AFC Champions League while the Vietnamese Cup winner goes to the AFC Cup.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vietnam celebration frenzy". Sport24. Retrieved 2013-12-02.