In the four candidates, Nguyen Hoai Nam, CEO of Berjaya Vietnam, President of Intercontinental Hanoi Hotel, Chairman of Nam Huong Communications and Investment Company, Vice Chairman of the Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, as well as a member of the Board of Directors of some other companies, is considered a novel one.
It is because of his deep understanding of the sport business, his experience of 15 years working in the financial and monetary industry, his wide network with local and international business people, and his burning for football and Vietnam that make this difference.
The position of vice president of finance of Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) had largely been taken by well-known entrepreneurs in the past. They got achievements and also a lot of controversy and scandals. This term, when Vietnam’s football is turning into a new leaf, this position comes right in the centre of attention. TheLEADER talked with the novel candidate Nguyen Hoai Nam about this matter.
Why have you decided to run for such a harsh thing?
Nguyen Hoai Nam: First, I personally find that the more challenging, the more interesting. Secondly, since I first watched an international football tournament on television, my passion for football has run deep inside me.
Thirdly, a vice president of finance should be capable of calling for funding, as well as finding a stable and long-term income for the VFF. With nearly 15 years of running a multinational financial corporation and all the experience I have got, I am confident that I will receive a great deal of support from my Vietnamese business friends to make the World Cup dream come true.
Recently U23 Vietnam has gained excellent achievements in ASEAN as well as at the Olympics. Notably, in 2026, the World Cup will increase the number of participants to 48 teams, which means that our Asia will have eight more teams that may join the World Cup. I think, eight year time is enough for us to have a strategic vision, and it also equals to two VFF terms. Those taking part in these terms will work together to find a national strategy for Vietnam’s football.
Looking back at the overall strategy for Vietnam’s football, do you think that finance is the core of every issue?
Nguyen Hoai Nam: Finance is always an important factor, but in my opinion, this fact does not apply to Vietnam’s football. The most important factor is those working in the football industry should think more than the goal of gaining achievements in the Southeast Asian region and be consistent with their goals.
What is the biggest drag of Vietnam’s sports?
Nguyen Hoai Nam: Over the years, the efforts of the private sector and sports lovers seem still distant from the state system in the sport industry. How to ensure transparency and fairness for their contribution?
These two forces must work smoothly, so the two sides should work together to establish an environment, a shared formula of operation and cooperation. As we strive for a goal, the ways to achieve it can easily be unified under the support of the government.
To tackle this drag, what lessons would you, who has managed football teams in the international environment, give to Vietnam?
Nguyen Hoai Nam: On TV, international football matches only show the most beautiful things. Behind that beauty is a huge machine, which appears to have serious problems like ours: corruption, bankruptcy, or M&A.
Perhaps the essential difference is that they show the best and the genuine game to the world. We must also overcome the difficulties to show everyone a clean national championship and a team that is at least capable of competing in Asia.
Learning from the world is necessary, but it is important to understand the Vietnamese characteristics.
So what is the strongest point of Vietnam's football?
Nguyen Hoai Nam: Many people think that we do not have the technology, strength, or finance. That's wrong! We have not had those as yet. We cannot turn the passion for football in Vietnam into tangible contributions yet. The football passion in Vietnam is nowhere like any other countries. Millions of people wearing in red bandrols cheered for the victory of U23 Vietnam, tens of thousands watch the national championships every week, but businesses are not any interested. That is a big question that needs solving.
But our top athletes' livelihood is gloomy. While Vietnam is entering the 4.0 era, is the sports business still 1.0?
Nguyen Hoai Nam: We need professional companies to manage the issues in sports. They are the one to create relationships between Vietnamese clubs and other football federations to help transfer technology in management and training for Vietnam's football.
These companies may also improve the livelihood of professional players by helping them exploit their image and reputation for advertising, which enables players to have a stable livelihood after retirement, increases the income for the club as well as raises the tax revenue for the State.
We should form a healthy football ecology, which includes fans and audiences, football players, professionals, marketing and management companies, clubs, federations, and governments.
But how can this machine work smoothly? First and foremost, there must be vision, hence, strategic decision makers for Vietnam's sports are inevitable.
Before the end of this interview, one word I want to emphasise is "solidarity". Football is a collective sport, so solidarity creates the strength of a team. This applies to the Vietnamese football.
Thank you very much!