Fair Play: Provincial FAs should insist--limit UFL participation in Smart Cup

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Jan. 24 edition)
HOW would you feel if the five reinforcements you’ve spent for are declared ineligible two days before your first game?

If you want to wring somebody’s neck, burn down an office or pull out of the tournament, then you’d have to be impressed at the relative calm with which UC Erco is taking this latest setback in its bid in the Philippine Football Federation Smart Cup.

Told by the PFF that they are free to add five players for the national finals, they added five from the Green Archers, Chiefy Caligdong and Cebuano Paolo Pascual included.

Of course, that was with the team’s blessing.

No problem, right?

Apparently, someone did have a problem because an entity that was supposed to be a non-factor in the national club tournament of the Philippines--the UFL--thumbed down the move, citing a groundrules in the UFL that once the teams name their rosters, players aren’t allowed to play in PFF-tournaments in the NCR.

And did I point out the UFL season has yet to start and there are six UFL teams in the Smart Club Championships?

Keith Buyco, the “B” in BRO, almost had a second heart attack learning of the ruling.

Rodney Orale, a Cebu Football Association, up to now, still can’t understand the rule, which basically threatened Caligdong et. al. from a season-long ban had they played for Cebu. Coach Glen Ramos is nonplussed, confident the remaining players can still get the job done.

I’m shocked and disappointed for BRO, knowing the things the team had to go through.

Shocked, too, how a UFL decision in a PFF tournament can derail them.

Heck, up until we were talking yesterday, Engr. Orale has yet to be given a copy of the UFL decision or the copy of the ground rules. Even the Green Archers management was set to meet with the UFL to clarify such rule because they were caught by surprise.

If that’s how they play, then let’s play the game their way.

As it stands, the PFF Smart Club--which costs about P10 million a year for P8 years--is a waste of money. Why? Look at the teams, why bother pretend to go along with the eliminations only to have a lineup stacked with Manila teams of the UFL?

It’s unfair for non-UFL teams too, because teams in the league have two options to qualify, one through the UFL and two, through whatever FA it can latch itself to.

Enough of that. Cebu and the rest of the Fas that don’t have UFL teams should unite and demand the PFF curtail the UFL’s power. Why give them three and the rest only one per region? Why give their members two chances and the rest only one through the qualifiers?

My suggestion? Limit the UFL to only three representatives—the previous season’s league and Cup champion, plus the Division 2 champion. Any UFL team—first division or second—that want to make it through the qualifiers must skip one season of the UFL because that’s basically what they threatened Caligdong et. al.

And to force the PFF as what the UFL did, Fas who are in the outside looking in should utilize their numbers and refuse to host any Smart Club tournament. Should the PFF insist, then the Fas should insist too that the PFF provide the funds upfront—for the field preparation down to the happy ending massage in Mabolo—before the teams even leave their homefields.

I remember when Pato Gregorio of Smart made the announcement in Cebu back in 2011 regarding the telecom giant’s P80 million over 10 years aid to the PFF for a men’s tournament. We even broke that story.

In hindsight, instead of getting giddy, and knowing how Cebu got screwed in the Smart Cup, we should just have said, “You can go shove that stupid Smart Club up your...”


Wilfred Labidez said…
It is better that pff smart tournament will have eliminations by regions, the winner in its region will represent the national championship rounds, thereby allowing only one ufl team to participate if they won during eliminations. At present set-up it is very discouraging for provincial FAS because they can't afford to hire quality foreign players due to lack of sponsors and financiers. How can we expect football developments in the provinces if this is the case UFL is dominating?

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