This post is also available in: Vietnamese
As the 2012 European Football Championship begins, congratulations to Phan Tat Duc, the first winner of VTV’s Olympics quiz, who has written to us about “the success of the English Premier League”.
“Following a dark period for English Football”, he wrote, “the Premier League embodied a number of commercial breakthroughs… Maximal service to global audience and broadcasting stations quickly gave Premier League the world’s largest coverage network and turned it into a worldwide favourite championship. It was even then hailed as ‘the greatest show on earth’… England therefore is clearly the birthplace of not only modern football but also the revolution in the professional football industry, where Premier League has transformed football from sports entertainment to an impressive eco-friendly industry.”
The Premier League has also become arguably Britain’s biggest brand here in Vietnam. I come across this everywhere, from taxi drivers talking about their favourite team (usually “MU”) to congratulations from Vietnamese friends on Chelsea’s recent Champions’ League victory.
They mean well. But although I am no football fan, I have a small family connection with Tottenham Hotspur, whose participation in next year’s Champions’ League was foiled by Chelsea’s win and an inferior goal difference in the Premiership to that of their main (North) London rival, Arsenal.
Arsenal have also helped establish a “Football Academy” in Pleiku, with Hoang Anh Gia Lai Football Club. HAGLFC’s Chairman, Doan Nguyen Duc, has said he is confident that “we will produce some world football stars of the future and also future Arsenal football players”.
So I will have to keep my sympathy for Spurs to myself, as I did when accompanying National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung to a match at the Emirates Stadium in London last December. (Arsenal beat Everton 1-0.)
“Vietnam”, wrote Duc, “in looking forward from the success of the Premier League, has taken the first step towards this exemplary model in bringing VPF into being. We hope for a near future where Vietnamese can take as much pride in our very own V-league as the English in theirs.”
I was sorry that neither Scotland, nor Wales nor Northern Ireland qualified for the European Championship finals this year. England’s first match is against France on Monday 11 June.
There are serious concerns about selective justice and the rule of law in Ukraine, where this match will be staged, and no British ministers will attend. But the Government supports England’s participation in the tournament.
The VTV quizzes continue at 19:50 every Wednesday on VTV1 and VTV3 until 24 July. Good luck to you, and to England at the European Championships.