Fair Play: Cebu needs a miracle for AFC Presidents Cup
I AM really not that convinced by the reason that the “misunderstanding” between the Cebu Football Association and the Cebu City Sports Center management was because the religious activity was supposedly booked last December yet and the management can't turn down the request of the organizers to put up a stage at the football pitch.
(Photo by ML, no image copyright. Share this for a beer.)
The fact that this wasn't mentioned in their previous meetings, (By the way, there's going to be a stage 11 days before the tournament starts) is one. And having been a regular in CCSC manager Ricky Ballesteros' office, I know how effective they are in anticipating future conflicts of schedules as they have a whiteboard calendaring all events, sometimes months in advance is another.
Based on the religious group’s website, too, the event at the CCSC isn’t even listed in their calendar, which already lists events in May.
“Gubot kaayo,” one of those working on the pitch told me when I dropped by last Saturday. “Nakurat mi tanan.”
But the major reason why I am not convinced is that it’s the election season and as anyone knows, politicians will do anything--dance, sing badly and grant last-minute requests—for extra publicity and to collect favors.
Why do I think that way? Because when I went to the CCSC, I saw a tent bearing a name of a candidate for councilor of Talisay City whose group is also supporting the same group that the incumbent Cebu City mayor is supporting. I could be wrong, but you can connect the dots.
And if you run a government facility, well, you can't say no to requests like this.
Engr. Rodney Orale, the man in charge for the preparation of the pitch, said there’s nothing they can do about the religious rally, except pray for a miracle that the grass will grow back in two days for AFC final inspection. Yes, the event will start on May 8, but the final inspection is on April 30.
Orale said that in a conversation with some of those with the religious group, he was told that "If you believe in Jesus, the grass will grow."
But to borrow a famous saying, yes, we all believe in God but we still lock our doors at night and we get a job so we can have a decent living, right?
What happens if the pitch fails the AFC inspection? Will the AFC push through with the Presidents Cup in Cebu or will Kyrgyzstan or Bhutan get the hosting job? If that happens, that's a big embarrassment, not only to the CCSC, CFA or Cebu City, but to Philippine football.
And to those espousing sports tourism, that's a big loss. That's 88 rooms--22 per team--over 10 days in the peak season, and that's just for the delegations. And, mind you, these players are stars in their own countries and have a following, a tweet here, an Instagram post there about how they enjoyed Cebu? That will do wonders. Take the case of Singapore, the players enjoyed their stay in Cebu so much that they returned, with families in tow.
What happens if the pitch fails inspection? Didn't I say we need a miracle?
The CFA and CCSC can get on each other's throats but it's fortunate--despite this unfortunate incident--that they are not. Because even if the AFC event doesn't push through, there's still that June 8 friendly. Sir Ricky said there's no contract between the CFA and CCSC as to limiting the use of the pitch during the preparation stage and for the next friendly, I think both parties should put everything in writing, and the fine-print should include barring last-minute requests from anyone, even from P-Noy himself.
As for the rest of fans wanting to see the AFC Presidents Cup? Pray for that miracle…but keep the doors locked and keep your day job.