THE Philippine Football Federation (PFF) fears it will lose some of its private-sector sponsors after the national Under-23 men’s team failed to get the green light from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) in its bid to represent the country in the upcoming Southeast Asian Games.
Despite its willingness to spend for the whole trip of both the men’s team as well as the women’s team – which made the SEA Games cut, the PFF’s request was turned down by the POC which cited the much-criticized criteria that the U-23 Azkals are not gold-medal contenders in the Myanmar Games.
“Instead of giving incentives to associations that have sponsors, I think it’s a 'decentive,'" PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said.
The POC, according to Araneta, explained that it was just trying to be fair to other national sports associations that have no sponsors to fund their team's trips.
But in so doing, the POC has done a disservice to NSAs which have the funds to send their teams to Myanmar, Araneta pointed out.
“Sabi nila kawawa naman daw yung (NSAs na) walang sponsors. Ang mangyayari ngayon, kawawa na rin kami kasi we will lose, for sure, some of our sponsors like Suzuki,” Araneta said.
The Japanese car brand has bankrolled the last two editions of PFF’s national U-23 tournament, spending P11 million, according to Araneta, in the last staging alone earlier this year.
“I won’t be surprised if they won’t sponsor us anymore. Kasi bakit pa? Wala namang incentive to put up a team for the Under-23, so why put up a tournament for the Under-23?”
“If that’s the sports officials’ intention — to even the playing field — then they have been successful in achieving this,” Araneta added sarcastically.
Araneta said one of the PFF’s sponsors was, in fact, SEA Games host Myanmar which offered to shoulder the Philippine team's expenses if it won’t get any funding from the country.
The PFF's bid to send a team to the SEA Games, according to Araneta, was even backed by Asean Football Federation president Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah of Malaysia who wrote a letter earlier this month to POC president Peping Cojuangco to appeal the national side’s inclusion in Myanmar.
Araneta said the Sultan was instrumental in the AFF’s US$100,000 donation to the victims of Typhoon Pablo last February.
“Mabuti pa nga sila na taga-labas nakakaintindi.”