Fair Play: Of clubs and championships
This is my Sun.Star Cebu column for Aug. 13, 2011
I DON’T have much hopes for this year’s Smart Club championships as I believe the Philippine Football Federation didn’t have the preparation it would have wanted in holding such a tournament, just like the Suzuki U23 championships.
The clubs, too, I think weren’t able to prepare and I’m not only talking about the clubs that are in the national finals.
Take the case of Cebu, whose representative to the Visayas eliminations got hammered because it was ill-prepared. I heard the champion of the Aboitiz League, which was supposed to represent Cebu, declined due to misunderstanding about who should finance its trip.
The event is part of Smart’s P80-million kitty for Philippine football and I think the PFF had to fast-track everything to come up with national tournaments which, just a year ago, was as likely as a Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather match.
Smart announced its support during the PFF Board of Governors’ meeting last January, just over six months ago and between then and now, the PFF had to insert a Suzuki U23, three home games including two World Cup qualifiers and the renovation of the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
So you can give the PFF a little leeway if this year’s club championships isn’t a club championship as we have teams just assuming new names and teams fielding players from all over.
But, as Bong Pedralvez said when we got to discuss it with Graeme Mackinnon in a taxi ride from Rizal to the Diamond Hotel, “It’s a good start.”
I hope next year the club championships really become a club championship because it is the next logical step for the sport.
The Azkals may have raised the bar for Philippine football but it will be the clubs and the domestic tournaments that will take it to the next level. Of course, the UFL will play a big part, too.
Next year, I hope there’s a better structure for the competition and clearer rules on the transfer of players. Rules that in essence, should protect a club.
The same problem plaguing the PFF National Men’s Open, wholesale transfer of players who lost in the regionals to another club, seems to crop up anew and that, if unchecked, is a potential club killer.
A club’s existence would be jeopardized if the players can just jump ship at a moment’s notice, right?
Back in 2004, it was proposed that a database of players be put up before the start of the local elims and players would no longer be allowed to jump clubs. I believe the PFF should revisit that rule before next year’s club championships.
Aside from that, I hope, too, the PFF and the schools can address the practice of school-based leagues not allowing their players to join other competitions while their own leagues are ongoing.
In our present system, collegiate footballers are the future of all clubs, and having them miss out this opportunity, for me, is a shame.
While I can understand the need for school-based leagues to protect its members, I don’t think it has to view other tournaments as a threat. And their standby-excuse of “It’s the school who will pay if the player gets injured?” There’s a way around that.
And to prod the schools to release its players, do you know what is the next best thing to a national club championships?
A national schools championships.
People from Globe, feel free to steal this idea.