Saturday, March 03, 2012

Ramos duty-bound to report locker room incident

(This is the draft of my report for Sun.Star Cebu for March 3)
"PUBLICTY Stunt? What for?"

This was the reaction of match commissioner Christy Ramos on comments that her complaint for sexual harassment against Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado was a ploy to gain publicity.

Ramos, who is a former president of the Philippine Olympic Committee and an experienced match commissioner in Fifa and AFC organized tournaments, filed a complaint against Moy and Guirado with the Asian Football Confederation for their conduct during the routine pre-match check prior to the Philippines vs. Malaysia friendly last Feb. 29.

In her complaint to AFC disciplinary committee chairman Lim Kia Tong, Ramos complained about the behavior of Moy and Angel Guirado and the Philippine team during the routine pre-match team check.  Team manager Dan Palami and coach Michael Weiss were not present.

Ramos also said that being a woman match commissioner in a men’s match, she usually gives teams sufficient warning before going to the changing room. During the Philippines vs. Malaysia game, Ramos said she, her liaison officer Joseph Gensaya, and fourth official Wilfredo Bermejo waited for five minutes after knocking on team Philippines’ door.

“When we entered the changing room of the Philippine team, I properly introduced ourselves and explained the procedure for the check. In spite of the introduction, the players remained rowdy and noisy, apparently not taking the team check seriously and almost ignoring our presence,” she said.

In the team check, Ramos said, players identification cards and jerseys have to be checked individually and it was when she called Moy that the footballer “Stood by my right side and said in a loud voice 'Must be a B cup,' to which the players laughed loudly. As I was the only female in the room, he was apparently referring to my bra size."

When she called Guirado, she said the striker just stood there in his underwear without even bothering to cover and the players just kept laughing.

“While all this was happening, none of the Philippine team officials present nor the team captain, James Joseph Younghusband, made any attempts to discipline the players and tell them to behave properly. In fact they were also laughing and seemed to be enjoying the revelry at my expense,” she said.

Moy and Aldeguer are now in Nepal for the AFC Challenge Cup and Sun.Star Cebu is coordinating with Palami to get their side.

Moy wrote in his twitter page minutes after the match that he got a shorts that was a size too small but Ramos said the player couldn't have been referring to his shorts with his comments.

"Sizes of men's athletic cups are extra-small to extra-large. They don't come in letter sizes like bra cups," Ramos said.

Ramos also said she was disappointed that none of the officials like Gensaya, who is the president of the Iloilo Football Association, made a move to discipline the players.

“That was the whole point nga. Nobody there in that room even tried to discipline the players--not the Philippine team officials, not the fourth official, not Joseph! Not even a sutsot or 'hey guys, pay attention" or "hey guys, quiet!' James younghusband was captain and didn't even say anything to the team,” Ramos said in an online chat with Sun.Star Cebu.

She also said that in contrast, the behavior of the Malaysian team was exemplary and they were all professional.

“I thought it was not proper to compare with the other team, but my check with the Malaysia team went very smoothly," said Ramos, who did not mention her experience with the Malaysian team in her complaint.

Ramos also explained that as match commissioner, it is her duty to report to the AFC any incidents related to the match.

"As you know, racism is a big issue now in football, especially in Europe. You just make monkey noises and hold a banana, and that is a strong case vs racism. So sexism and sexual harassment are also big issues," Ramos said.

As to allegations of a publicity stunt, Ramos said, “They can say whatever they want to say. Publicity stunt? What for? As a Match Commissioner, it is my duty to report any untoward incidents related to the match.”

Though disappointed with the behavior of the team and officials, Ramos said she was more than happy with how Palami and PFF President Nonong Araneta are dealing with the matter.

“I met with Mr Palami and Araneta and PFF Gen. Sec Atty. Tulay to discuss the matter. I would like to give credit to Mr Palami since he delayed his flight to Nepal to be able to talk to me and apologize. Mr. Araneta assured that the PFF would do its own investigation,” she said.

Though Palami apologized to her in behalf of the team, and she accepted it, Ramos said, “But I also reiterated that I wanted a public apology and that the public apology doesn't absolve the wrongdoers from the ‘crime.’”

Palami told Sun.Star Cebu that he apologized because, “the fact that somebody took offense is reason enough to apologize, but I need to get their side on the matter as soon as possible.”

In his official statement Palami said, "It is unfortunate that we learned about this first from media sources. In my brief conversation with Commissioner Ramos after the match, we exchanged pleasantries and there was no mention of the incident...As I told her in our meeting today, I would have addressed the issue right then. Since the players have already left the country for the AFC tournament, a dialogue between them and Commissioner Ramos is not possible at the moment. Nonetheless, we will not put off the investigation even as we prepare for a major tournament. I will sit down with my players and staff and get to the bottom of this."

Palami also said that based on his experience the pre-match excitement and jitters often leads to boisterous bantering.

“For someone who walks into this situation, this might appear as bordering on disrespect.  But again, I am speaking only from my personal experience. I was not witness to the particular incident which is the subject of the incident report. Until I hear from all sides, I cannot comment substantially on the matter,” he said.

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