Friday, October 31, 2014

Fair Play: Can UFL look to PBA for solution?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Oct. 29 edition)
THE Azkals are again in the thick of preparation for the Suzuki Cup, Southeast Asia’s marquee football tournament, and once again, the club vs. country issue is raised.

What’s that? Players who play for their clubs—who pay for their salaries—have to be released during Fifa-designated dates for friendlies or tournaments.

It’s pretty cut and dried, right? No, not really. Some clubs, whether its for an international friendly or not, readily released their players for national team duty, while some insist on following the rule to the letter, as is their right.

Besides, as some club officials would reason out, why release players for the national team if they are used for practice games only and not for the tournament itself?

I’ve heard arguments from both sides of the issue and they can go on ad infinitum but one fact won’t change—we haven’t won the Suzuki Cup, much less made the finals.

Why? What is the Suzuki Cup and how important is it for Philippine football?

Well, it’s like this, if not for the Suzuki Cup, we won’t be having this kind of argument. There would be no club vs. country debate because there won’t be club duties that would be in conflict with country duties.

Philippine football got a much-needed shot in the arm when the Miracle in Hanoi happened and a successful campaign in the tournament will boost it again.

The sooner the stakeholders realize that, the sooner this conflict ends.

Heck, they can even follow the PBA example. (No, don’t get Nonito Donaire as starting player and coach).

When the Philippines hosted the Fiba Asia championship in 2013, the stakeholders knew that that tournament, not the PBA, is what was more important, so the schedules were tweaked. When we made the Fiba World Cup, the schedules were again tweaked so Gilas Pilipinas will have the ample preparation it needs for the tournamnet.

And a great stint in the World Cup—forget the Asian Games—was a great boost to Philippine basketball, the players and the league.

The Suzuki Cup isn’t held every year, but why not make it the pinnacle of the Philippine football season? Let everything—schedule, preparation, league, local competitions—be focused on it?

If the PBA could do that, why not football?

QOUTE. It is always easy to say that country comes before club, until you are actually asked to do it”—Dan Palami, Philippine national team manager.

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