Fair Play" PHL football shoots itself on the foot

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Nov. 3 edition)
I’VE always admired Ceres FC of Bacolod City, even before it won the PFF Smart Cup last year or took the UFL Division 2 by storm on its way to the first division.

You could say that Ceres FC is the provincial club that benefited the biggest in the renaissance in Philippine football brought about by the Azkals.

But the club’s latest action was a big turnoff, refusing to release Azkal regulars Juani Guirado, Jeffrey Christaens, Manny Ott and Patrick Reichelt for the Qatar camp and Nepal friendly because they didn’t like the schedule.

The Oct. 31 friendly came after the Oct. 26 and 27 quarterfinal matches of the UFL Cup--which Pachanga, Ceres, Loyola and Global won. The semifinals are on Nov. 4 and the finals on Nov. 6. After that, there are friendlies in Thailand on Nov. 10 and against Cambodia at home on Nov. 14.

“It’s true we did not release our players for the national team friendly in Qatar. The main reason is very obvious; the schedule is not good at all for the players,” Ali Go, the club director, told Rappler.com.

What’s left unsaid, of course, is the other obvious thing the statement implies: “The Azkals management don’t know what they are doing, besides, we have a semifinal to win.”

News flash for clubs and players in the FA Cup (and I think I speak for most fans based outside Manila and those on the outside looking in) I don’t give a rat’s ass who wins. Can you remember who won the previous Cup? What I care about is the Suzuki Cup.

If this happened a month ago, I’d probably side with Ceres, the Azkals can go shove their call-ups up their backsides, we have a semifinal to win. But it’s four weeks before the AFF Suzuki Cup and we don’t have time for selfish interests. Besides, the other clubs released their players, no questions asked.

Is the Azkals team management nuts by going through this schedule? Perhaps they are, but I have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing. We won’t be here if they didn’t.

Who wins in this pissing contest? 


Not Ceres who will be known this season as that selfish club from Bacolod that was more concerned about silverware than the national team. Not the Azkals who lost players for the camp.

Because in case you guys miss the big picture—the Suzuki Cup is three weeks away.

And for the Filipino football fans (the persons, not the twitter handle) that’s what matters.

Go said if the Philippines wants to go the professional route in football, we should go about the professional way in handling things like schedule etc.

Philippine football is unique, we got domestic football because of international success. Sure, the UFL existed before, but it wasn’t at its present form or setup. We have the Smart Cup because of the Suzuki Cup success.

And it is ironic that right now, our preparations for international tournaments are hampered by domestic league issues.

Foot. Gun. Shoot.

Of course, there’s another question that begs to be asked—why in the name of all football gods is our domestic competition arranged this way?

Foot. Gun. Shoot.


arielle-cruz said…
Playing Devil's advocate: maybe the Ceres players didn't want to be released and club management supported the players?

Wala lang.

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