Fair Play: Cebu impresses AFC officials

I ALWAYS knew that crowd behavior would be one of the factors for a successful hosting of the Asian Football Confederations (AFC) Cup. I just didn’t know how huge a factor it would be.

It turns out crowd behavior at the Cebu City Sports Center has impressed not only local but AFC officials, one of whom told Graeme Mackinnon that he would show the video he took of the crowd to other officials to show how football “is more fun in Cebu.”

When Dordoi striker Murzaev Mirlan scored that equalizer and then faced the Global Force section and put up one finger to his lips, to hush them, there was a smattering of boos and the fans kept on chanting.

In a video message posted online, the AFC match commissioner said, “I didn’t see anything bad, I didn’t hear anything bad, only the good things.”

By bad he meant the crowd throwing everything plus the kitchen sink at the opposing teams, or at their own teams, whenever the scoreline gets bad.

Dordoi was running circles around Global FC but the crowd kept on chanting, never missing a beat. They would do so for about 10 minutes after the final whistle.

And during a dinner with the team an hour or so later, Global Force Cebu kept on chanting.

“This is one of the best places for fair play, one of the best places to work in,” he continued. “You have to be proud of yourself...the future is yours.”

Yep, the future is ours.

That’s why we are really going to need that field at the Cebu City Sports Center.

RUNNERS AT THE HELM. Mike Rama scored a monumental upset and Edgar Labella survived a last-minute rally and the two runners are now the mayor (again) and vice-mayor of Cebu City.

I’m not going to discuss whether that’s good or bad for the political landscape--please check the opinion columnists for that--but rather what does the election of the two mean for local sports?

The two are serious runners and have seen the benefits of an active lifestyle. With another runner in the City Council--Mary Ann delos Santos--the future looks bright for the local running community. And I think the Cebu City Marathon will get that much needed government support in its quest to become the marquee running destination in the country.

I hope in the next major football tournament--or friendly here--Mayor Rama and Vice Mayor Labella will get to watch it so they can feel the passion of the fans. Who knows? That may prod the city to--yep, you guessed it--spruce the pitch at CCSC.

Why do we need a perfect pitch at CCSC? Because of the AFC President’s Cup hosting, Cebu doesn’t need to pitch for an AFC event, it’s going to be the officials themselves who are clamoring to return here.

Now that is what sports tourism is all about, getting visitors to say “You must visit Cebu!”


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