NO less than Fifa president Gianni Infantino paid tribute to the leadership of Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta.
In his first visit to the country recently, Infantino expressed satisfaction on the performance of the PFF under Araneta, who is seeking re-election in the PFF Congress next month.
“I’ve known Mariano (Araneta) for so many years,” said Infantino. “He is a football person, he is a football man, he is a football legend certainly in the country, but also beyond. I think it’s positive to have persons like him in charge of the federation in the country
because he breathes and lives football and that’s very positive to pass the message in the most appropriate way.”
The Fifa president also stressed that there’s still plenty of work that needs to be done as the country continues to develop the sport.
"I'm very positive about football in the Philippines, I mean, already if you see the most recent results in the last year or two with qualification in the Asian Cup for men for, and for women,” said Infantino.
“We’ve seen the country be competitive in the last couple of years which shows that some work is done and that progress is made. I'm sure the Philippines will play a key role in the future, certainly not just in the ASEAN but also in the world."
Araneta said the PFF’s programs are actually aligned with the world body’s thrusts to build more infrastructure and stage more competitions.
The completion of the National Training Centre in Carmona, Cavite, which will not only be the home of the PFF but also provide living quarters to national teams preparing for tournaments is one of the priorities of Araneta as he seeks four more years to lead the
country’s football body.
Aside from the formation of the Philippines Football League, the PFF also stages the PFF Women’s League as well as the Boys’ Under-15 National Championship.
“These are exciting times for Philippine football,” said Araneta, noting that Qatar Airways is also expected to come in as a major sponsor of the PFL.
“We’re happy that Mr. Infantino has acknowledged the work that we’ve done, but we cannot rest on our laurels. His visit to the country has been an eye-opener for everyone. We know that more work has to be done to continuously develop the sport in the country, and with help from the private and public sectors, football will continue to foster.”