to the philippine football community and our nation – salamat!

Joseph Blatter announcing 2014 World Cup will ...

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The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for the 2014 World CupTM Brazil Preliminary Competition Asian Zone would like to express their deepest gratitude to the Philippine Football Community and the Filipino nation for all the support during our campaign to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. We may have fallen short this time but this is only the beginning.

To our Men’s National Team, the Philippine Azkals – you made us proud with the fight that made the Filipino nation take notice. Your opponents from Kuwait acknowledged as much when they said they didn’t expect the matches to be that hard. Hold your heads high as you have nothing to be ashamed of. Salamat!

To Dan Palami and the Men’s National Team Management – your sacrifices are starting to pay off. We always knew that this was going to be a tough road but that did not stop you from believing. The PFF will continue to provide all the necessary support as we move forward. Salamat!

To the LOC team – you have showed our country that we have what it takes to run an international event in a professional manner. We are sure that many of the skeptics have been converted. There will always be critics but you showed that you could rise to the occasion and let your work speak for you. Salamat!

To the PFF Board and leadership – thank you for the trust and confidence. We worked hard to make sure that the support that you have was not misplaced. Salamat!

To our sponsors – we would never have been able to move Philippine Football forward without your trust and confidence. We reiterate our promise of remaining responsible stewards of the financial support that you have entrusted us with. We sincerely hope that your investment in the game has and will continue to reap rewards for you as we strive towards a true partnership of mutual benefit. Salamat!

To the media – thank you for allowing Philippine Football access to your precious air time and print space. We will remain as accessible as we have tried to be to enable you to provide your patrons with the information that they seek of the game. We will continue to be open to criticism and suggestions as relayed to you by your readers. This way, you can truly be a medium for communication. Salamat!

To the fans – thank you for continuing to BELIEVE! We remain conscious of our obligation to repay your undying support with the hard work that will enable Philippine Football to reach even greater heights. We thank you for your patience. We remain open to your suggestions, criticism and feedback. We hope you continue to remain steadfast in your support as we look forward to more challenges going forward. As with you – WE BELIEVE!

There are many more that need to be thanked and we beg the indulgence of those who may not have been mentioned here but you know who you are and we thank you.

The challenge now is to strengthen the foundation that has been built. The PFF remains cognizant of the fact that a lot of the attention right now may go away if we do not remain true to the goal of advancing Philippine Football. A lot of work needs to be done and will be done. In the end, we will be judged by the progress that we make and the results that will come out. There will be no excuse that can subvert these objective measures.

It will be hard but it will be worth doing because of our love for the beautiful game.



staring defeat in the face: this is just the beginning

“this is just the first half” – ebong joson (aka the Blue-Haired Fanatic)

MAKATI, Philippines – Today we lost to a superior team. We always knew the odds were long. But who will not be amazed by the discipline, sacrifice and fight that our boys showed. It would have been easy enough to lose focus and go for the goals and leave ourselves open to a bigger deficit. But James stayed back to the defend, Chieffy stayed back to defend, Angel willed himself despite some hard knocks. They kept to the plan. As a player staring defeat in the face – this could not have been easy. But they knew what they had to do and we admire them for that.

We will welcome our team as heroes. We will thank them for making us proud. The road to the World Cup is not a sprint, it is a marathon. We have come so far but we have a long road ahead of us. But we have not given up for while the challenge is daunting, it is not unreachable.

And as my good friend Ebong Joson said – now is the time to show them some love. It is time for us to step forward and pick our team up. It is – at this time – when they need us most.

Mabuhay ang Azkals!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

a letter to our fans regarding tickets for the 2014 fifa world cup brazil asian preliminaries round 2 leg 2 – PHILIPPINES VS. KUWAIT

PASIG CITY – The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) notes with significant concern and dismay the feedback that we have received over the sale of tickets for the home leg of the Philippines’ World CupTM Qualifying Tie against Kuwait.

There is nothing more that the PFF would like to see than to have every fan enjoy the match at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on July 28th. The fact of the matter, however, is that we only have a little fewer than 13,000 seats available at the venue. This compares to our estimate of ticket demand being over 10 times that number.

The PFF has made it a policy to democratize the availability of tickets for the home games of our Men’s National Team. This led to the decision to engage TicketWorld to sell the tickets given their broad reach and multiple modes for the sale of tickets. In previous matches prior to our game against Sri Lanka, ticket sales were handled by the PFF itself which turned out to be untenable.  It is also the PFF’s policy to allocate the biggest block of tickets for public sale.

In relation to the sale of tickets last Saturday, PFF and Local Organizing Committee (LOC) staff were at some TicketWorld locations to monitor the start of ticket selling.  LOC staff noted early on that in certain TicketWorld outlets, the transaction limit was not what had been directed by PFF to TicketWorld. This concern was immediately communicated to TicketWorld which then called the identified outlets to issue the proper directive.

The PFF also took note of complaints about some outlets selling more than the 10-ticket limit per transaction. Given the rapid rate by which the tickets were sold, the PFF and TicketWorld could not confirm the veracity of these complaints before the tickets ran out.  The PFF has, however, asked TicketWorld to check their transaction records to trace these transactions, if any. The PFF will look into the circumstances of these incidents and will consider invalidating these transactions should these be warranted.

The PFF has solicited the help of fan sites and media to help gather specific information as to the complaints regarding Saturday’s event.

The PFF recognizes the importance of our fans. We will continuously solicit and accept feedback from our fans as well as other parties to make sure that we are able to address issues, complaints and suggestions as a tool to continue to improve.

Given our experience in our previous match, we had reason to expect that the tickets that were made available for sale the other day would be sold out and sold out within a short period of time. There were three major factors not present in the previous experience that contributed to the way events unfolded last Saturday. The first is that the performance of our team in the first match undoubtedly encouraged more fans to want to watch the game at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Second, the atmosphere that people saw and felt while watching the first match on TV appear to have pushed more fans to want to watch the game live. Finally, tickets for this match were sold on a Saturday in contrast to the first match which was sold on a week day – Friday. This may have allowed more people to have the opportunity to buy tickets without having to take time off from work.

There remain a lot of allegations regarding “scalping”. It is unfortunate but there is not much that the PFF can do about this as there is no “anti-scalping” law in the Philippines. The best we could do was to limit the number of tickets sold to lessen the opportunity for unscrupulous buyers to accumulate tickets. The absence of a regulatory deterrent, however, makes this practice a legal, though highly objectionable, act.

The PFF and the LOC did allocate tickets for the following:

  1. Players, coaches, team officials and their family members;
  2. Local/Provincial Football Associations to make tickets available to those outside Metro Manila;
  3. Corporate Sponsors and Donors;
  4. the Kaholeros; and,
  5. the Kuwait Football Association.

The total number of tickets allocated to all these groups combined is less than that made available to the public.

We should be able to determine the total number of tickets to be taken up by the Kuwait Football Association by next week and make available whatever is not taken up to the public. We will also try to ask our sponsors and donors to make available some of the tickets allocated to them to the public. It is hoped that these two actions will allow the PFF to make even more tickets available to our fans.

We, at the PFF, empathize with the disappointment of those who were not able to secure tickets. We share here a Facebook comment by Tom Balibag which we quote verbatim:

‎…so frustrating being outside the wall of Manila. kailangan mong dumaan sa butas nang buhok para lang makakuha nang ticket. do PFF know how it feels coming from outside Manila, be early, fall in line like a civilized person then end up nothing coupled with a simple reasons “naka hold po yung ticket or ubos na po” or urging you to buy the more expensive one available! get a life PFF, nandyan ang EDSA, talon kayo lahat dyan!

Mr. Balibag, we feel your frustration and your sense of indignation. We could say so much more to explain what we have done and what we are going to do but that will probably not change the way you feel now.

All we can promise is that we will continue to work at fixing what needs to be fixed knowing that we will never be fully able to please everyone. That will not, however, stop us from trying.

The Philippine Football Federation

The Local Organizing Committee – 2014 FIFA World Cup TM Brazil Asian Preliminaries Round 2 Leg 2 – Philippines vs. Kuwait

philippine football and the challenges of trying to do the right thing

Hayaan mo. That’s how press people are.

Hayaan mo na yan. He’s an a**hole.

PASAY CITY – The comments above were what I received when I asked some friends to find a way for me to sit down and meet with Recah Trinidad to talk about the issues that were raised in his Bare Eye column today in the Inquirer. The article in the column was actually lifted from the Uppercut column of a Danny Simon of the tabloid, Policefiles.

I know and the people who matter know that the article of Mr. Simon is riddled with factual inaccuracies and other misleading information. The tone of the article does make your blood boil to the point where you’d want to lash out and start thinking about rationalizing everything as “crab-mentality”.

To attribute it to “crab-mentality” and move on would be an easy way out. To do so, however, would be to yield the high ground without even the whimper of a feeble protest. To do so would be to lend credence to unanswered untruths which will only serve to embolden these “journalists” to continue to tarnish the work of many who have sought neither publicity nor reward for the silent work that they did.

To do so would make people like Mr. Simon get away with what he has written.

So I choose not to remain silent. I will answer with the facts.

(Items in bold are from Mr. Simon’s articleitalicized items are my rejoinders).

“Ever hungry for victories, the Pinoy embraced the Azkals who rode mainly on the highly paid half-Filipino players.” Most of the foreign-based players that the Men’s National Team has on its roster play on club teams which pay them for their talent. I would not exactly call them highly paid – except maybe for a couple. The players of the Men’s National Teams do not get allowances. They get bonuses from the Philippine Football Federation and the National Team Management after certain milestones (e.g. advancing to the 2nd round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Qualifiers). These bonuses are earned – truly a performance-based system.

“Meanwhile, it cannot be denied that success has also gone into the head of many people involved in football, mostly officials of the Philippine Football Federation.” In what sense? We have never sought credit for what we believe was a well-run event and the preparations that went along with it. We were unstinting in giving credit where credit was due – De La Salle University for the pitch, the Philippine Sports Commission for their support and cooperation, our sponsors for their financial commitments, the City of Manila and Mayor Lim for facilitating local government coordination and the fans – for their being there. It would have been self-serving and in poor taste for the PFF to tout its part in the preparations though as an organization it was nice to receive some pats on the back.

“In fact, in the last match of the Azkals against Sri Lanka at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, organizers of the event went overboard as though it was the world championship proper they were hosting.They priced tickets beyond the reach of the masses, with the lowest priced seat going for at least P1,000”The lowest-priced ticket was P206.

“The bigger name of the game during the Philippines-Sri Lanka match was arrogance. While the masa was practically turned away by the expensive tickets, the media that had helped organizers tremendously were either given a runaround or totally discriminated upon. The vicinity of the stadium along Adriatico Street and Vito Cruz was closed. Next, men in black acting as PFF events marshalls sealed all the gates of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. The regular security guards were also stripped of their rights and functions. This, of course, was outright insult to the Philippine Sports Commission, whose officials were reduced to mere spectators.” If the totality of our actions was perceived as arrogance, then we sincerely regret this impression. This was not what we intended to convey. If there were media people who were discriminated against, our sincere apologies. We, as well as FIFA, consider media a vital part of football. We have listened to comments, suggestions and criticism from all quarters, including media, as part of our feedback mechanism for improvement. The security personnel who were engaged for the event were not there to be a nuisance but to facilitate an orderly and peaceful undertaking. It is not easy having 15,000 or so people in one place. We would rather have had the marshals do what they did rather than let chaos and disorder prevail. Of course, we have noted complaints and will work to address these to make sure we do better next time. Does the comment “outright insult to the Philippine Sports Commission” reflect the sentiments of the PSC personnel or is this the writer’s own understanding? The PFF has nothing but praise for the PSC leadership and its personnel. They worked alongside the PFF to ensure the holding of a successful event as true partners. Chairman Richie Garcia, Commissioner Jolly Gomez and Commissioner Chito Loyzaga were quite instrumental in the preparations. To say they were insulted is the actual insult. I wonder if he has even talked to the PSC.

“The saddest part came after national athletes were removed from their quarters, for one day and night, to prevent from either straying or peeping into the big game.” The national team athletes were all accorded complimentary tickets to the game. Some of them, however, chose not to watch the game.

“Message to the Azkals and PFF: You have a long way to go. A main threat awaits you in your next assignment where, if you fail, you will predictably again go begging for the attention of Juan. Just wait and see.” We, more than anyone, know we have a long way to go. The road to the World Cup is not a sprint but a marathon which requires patience and doggedness. We are grateful for the attention of the Filipino nation but are also mindful not to take this for granted. We continue to work to earn the support of the fans rather than feel entitled to it. We, more than anyone, know how it feels to be in the wilderness of Philippine sports. Our feet remain grounded unless, of course, our team scores and we celebrate the beauty of the game and enjoy the moment, even for just that moment..

If Mr. Simon and his ilk think we will stand idly by while he sticks a knife in our backs then he has another thing coming. We do not aim to be combative because we are being defensive, we will be combative because we will respond to irresponsible attacks as we have nothing to hide and we have no agenda other than to advance the development of the beautiful game in our country.

We also take moments like these as an opportunity to educate people about our progress and to disabuse them of the notion that we are in this for ourselves. We will stake our actions and the results that we produced against anyone else’s given the few weeks we were given to put together this event. We tried to do everything the right way. Our partner-contractors completed their tasks ahead of schedule and under budget. We tried to solicit competing bids for supply contracts to get the best outcome possible. Early on, the PFF recognized its weaknesses and decided to seek private sector support in areas where they could do a better job. We brought on private sector individuals to participate in the organizational effort, eventually ending up with 8 CEOs in the Local Organizing Committee. We did not settle for “puwede na” when we knew that things could be made to work (e.g. working toilets, better shower facilities in the dressing rooms, wider seating areas in the bleacher section, etc.). Ticket sales were entrusted to TicketWorld, who, despite minor kinks were able to do a significantly better job than the PFF could have ever done.

Yes – we acknowledge that there are things that we could improve on. The stairwells and pathways were clogged in certain areas. This we will address with better deployment of our security personnel and ushers. The egress of people after the game can be improved with the opening of more exits. Certain items that were publicized as prohibited items made it past our screeners. We need to do a better job of educating our ushers about the seat locations and emphasizing courteous behavior. These are all valid and helpful feedback that we can and will address.

It is not easy to put together an event this size and of this magnitude. In certain cases, our actions were guided by the strict rules and procedures that the Asian Football Confederation and FIFA require. There are sanctions that can be imposed on the PFF for failure to adhere to these protocols. It was not as if we could get away with certain things given the presence of a FIFA-appointed Match Commissioner from Bangladesh who went over the preparations with the Local Organizing Committee from his arrival on July 1st and observed the conduct of the game itself. The one comment he had, ironically, was that we gave the media too many liberties.

I am not sure why Mr. Simon chose to write what he wrote and why Mr. Trinidad yielded his space for the article. It is difficult to pin journalistic integrity on both gentlemen as a friend from the media said that columnists appear to enjoy certain allowances not enjoyed by pure journalists. Having said that, I am sure that many would agree that it would not be too much to ask of columnists to verify their facts before publishing their pieces. Of course, stirring up controversy (factual or not) does appeal more to human emotion than a bland story of how things were done right.

I, on the other hand, would rather be known as a builder who may make mistakes but learns from them and does better the next time than someone who tears down that building and have nothing to show for it when all is said and done.