Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fair Play: Club vs. country in the Philippine setting

This is my Sun.Star Cebu column on Sept. 15, 2011

IN a news item last week, Coach Michael Weiss blasted unnamed players for missing practice and said they shouldn’t slacken in their preparation for the Long Teng Cup next month.

He also took quite a dig by adding, “I’ve seen players more on billboards coming from Alabang to the training. I see them on billboards more often than on the pitch.”

They weren’t named in the report but the players were Kaya FC’s Anton del Rosario, Ali Borromeo and Jason Sabio, who missed practice on instructions of the team owner.

“It hasn’t been reported in the papers but he’s punishing our players,” the owner told me last week. “And he’s not bringing them to Bacolod.”

True enough, the players aren’t in Bacolod and missed out in the Azkals’ 3-1 wins over Global and Ceres-Negros U23.

But why did he tell the players to skip the Azkal practice, though?

The Azkals may practice just two hours a day, but the players spend twice that traveling to and from practice, leaving them too tired for club activities.

And the owner, who spent P9 million on his club and has just signed the Azkals to lucrative deals, wants his money’s worth by having his players on hand for club activities—on the pitch or off it.

And you can’t really accuse Kaya FC of being selfish since during a crucial run in the last UFL season, they missed del Rosario and Borromeo who were on a scouting trip in the US.

So, was he justified in telling his players to miss practice?

Perhaps. But perhaps the players could have informed Coach Weiss beforehand?

Because they didn’t, as Cebuanos are wont to say, niulbo ang kaspa ni coach.

But, since I’m forever the optimist in Philippine football lately, I think something good will come out of this.

Almost all of the Azkals based here have signed deals—lucrative ones that even surpass the monthly pay of the top PBA rookies—with UFL clubs and as the national team gets busy with a lot of scheduled friendlies, and the UFL getting bigger this year, conflicts like this will rise often.

And before the problem gets out of hand, why not find a solution?

This isn’t Europe where big clubs hold a power struggle with their national associations, or even Fifa, to hold on to their players, this is the Philippines, where everyone in football, it seems, knows everyone else.

Besides, the Azkals need the UFL, the UFL needs the Azkals.

So, talk it over, guys. Besides, as a UFL team owner, Dan Palami is the perfect conduit between the national team and the club owners.

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