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​Vietnam U23 star goalie hit with image rights scandal

​Vietnam U23 star goalie hit with image rights scandal

Friday, February 02, 2018, 13:06 GMT+7

The goalkeeper of Vietnam’s U23 football team, the country’s heroes after a historic run at the Asian football championship, has allegedly contracted with a local PR firm to sell the rights to his likeness for commercial purposes, upsetting his club, which already owns his personality rights.

Bui Tien Dung was one of the biggest stars emerging after Vietnam’s second place finish at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship late last month thanks to both his talent and his looks.

The goalie now has 2.6 million followers on his verified Facebook account, a surge from only a few hundred thousand before the competition in China, where Vietnam lost 1-2 to Uzbekistan in extra time in a memorable snowy finale.

On Wednesday, a photo surfaced on Facebook of a price list issued by a local PR company to have Dung appear in ads and publicity campaigns.

The company claims to have signed a contract with Dung to exploit his likeness.

The 'ad rate sheet' of Bui Tien Dung is seen in this screenshot shared on Facebook.
The 'ad rate sheet' of Bui Tien Dung is seen in this screenshot shared on Facebook.

Image rights, or personality rights, refer to the privilege of using someone’s image, name, voice, signature, or any other unique characteristics, for commercial purposes.

Athletes and celebrities can sign away their image rights through sponsorship and endorsement deals in order to leverage maximum value from their likeness.

According to the Facebook photo, advertisers must pay US$10,000 for the goalkeeper to attend an event or a photo shoot.

The prices to have him mention a brand in a Facebook post or livestream session are US$2,500 and $5,000, respectively. 

Restaurants or stores are required to pay $5,000 to have him check-in at their venue.

The price list also states that Dung is available to serve as a brand ambassador for a one-year contract worth $123,750.

The photo had caused a stir on social media before the goalie’s club, FLC Thanh Hoa, asserted in an official press release on Thursday that any agreements between Dung and the PR company are invalid as they were made without the consent of the football club.

“Tien Dung is currently a player of FLC Thanh Hoa and is therefore prohibited from signing deals with any organizations or individuals involving his publicity,” the club said.

“All activities involving the image of any FLC Thanh Hoa player, including keeper Bui Tien Dung, are managed by the club.

“Players are only allowed to appear in ads run by partners that have reached agreements with the club.”

FLC Thanh Hoa goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung is seen in this photo provided by the club.
FLC Thanh Hoa goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung is seen in this photo provided by the club.

FLC Thanh Hoa also said the ad rate sheet issued by the PR firm has had a “severe impact on Bui Tien Dung’s personal image, the U23 team, FLC Thanh Hoa, and the whole of Vietnamese football.”

“The trust and love for Vietnamese football that arose [following the AFC championship] has been more or less affected by this regrettable incident,” the club said.

FLC Thanh Hoa appears to imply that the viral price list has created the impression that its player would rather join show business than continue to focus on football.

A mistake

FLC Thanh Hoa managing director, Nguyen Trong Hoai, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Thursday that no business or individual has so far contacted the club seeking permission to use Bui Tien Dung’s image for commercial purposes.

Hoai added that Dung has trained with FLC Thanh Hoa since he was young and the club is responsible for all of his activities.

“We will always try and create conditions for our players to use their likeness for business but the club will represent them in all deal negotiation and signing processes,” he underlined.

Vietnam's goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung celebrates with his teammates after a match at the AFC U23 Championship in China. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Vietnam's goalkeeper Bui Tien Dung celebrates with his teammates after a match at the AFC U23 Championship in China. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Hoai said these requirements are clearly stated in the contracts the football club signs with its players, but Dung, as with many other footballers, might not have read the terms and conditions carefully and therefore could have “made a mistake.”

“Some businesses seem to be trying to take advantage of Tien Dung and he appears to be the victim in this incident due to his lack of understanding,” he said.

“We will do everything needed to protect Tien Dung and his image.”

FLC Thanh Hoa, based in the namesake province in northern Vietnam, fished second at the 2017 V-League 1, the country’s top-flight football competition.

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Son Luong / Tuoi Tre News

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