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.

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28 Comments on “philippine football and the challenges of trying to do the right thing”

  1. beaisabel says:

    Hello, i read the article of recah trinidad this morning and was appalled at his ignorance. You have done an excellent job in redeeming the Azkals and all the people behind making the July 3 event a success. Its because of people like you that people who are not aware will be enlightened about the truth. More Power to you!

    • i still have to read a negative feedback from football fans who watched the philippine azkals and sri lanka brave reds football match. i suspect other sports organizations are envious of the attention the azkals are getting nowadays. ive just seen on tv patrol today, 14 july 2011, a model who claimed to have been raped by 4 azkal players.

  2. can u ban a media? seriously?
    Mr. Simon.Well thanks for putting your National Team down.
    Multohin ka sana ni Rizal.

  3. Cassie says:

    This article nearly brought to me to tears. Absolutely frustrating. 😦 Philippine Football, for love and for country!

  4. Mark says:

    a very well written rebuttal of lies of those people whose intention is questionable…Filipino spirit and love of the games was awaken by the sincerity and love of the players, the management and the advocates of football…we have the momentum now, the least we need is a detractor like him…Go…go…go….Azkals and the Philippine football federation…we support you…

    • climate1436 says:

      no matter what you said and what others think about tha phil. azkalsss, still nothing change you cant either what we believe….GOGOGOGO AZKALSSSSSS….

  5. rolenbarrera says:

    I highly commend the Azkals and all the people behind them for bringing glory to our country. Though I am not nationalistic, I would admit that they (azkals) have already contributed significantly in the promotion of sports in the Philippines. I will always give you your due recognition in my heart as that is what you deserve, win or loose. Go azkals go, to the 2014 World Cup.

  6. its a Fifa games kya ganun ka strict yon. kya ganun ka mahal kc kelangan ng funds. saka bakit laging tinatanong ang paglalaro ng mga half players? eh halos lhat nman tayo eh half! Aetas at Mangyan lang ata ang PURE PINOY d2 satin!

  7. j onel says:

    masaya kasi maglaro ng soccer para ma impruved ang bawat manlalaro sa bawat team?

  8. Drex Sienes says:

    Totoong fans kami tsong…win or lose azkals parin. I dont expect them to win against kuwait but i believe. Iife is a process, and we are on the first stage, kng sa bata, tinutubuan palang tayo ng ngipin. If the program of our PFF will continue and improve, i bet in 20 yrs we will be in World Cup.

  9. Akala siguro ni Mr. CRAB-s (Recah)e nandito si spongebob….dapat sa bikini bottom na lang sya kasi marami CRABs dun….C-R-A-B mentality…..que barbaridad! Palibhasa boksing lang ang gusto nyan! Wala na kasi kumukuha sa kanya kaya hanggang dyan na lang….

  10. Arielle says:

    Media discrimination? I don’t understand what Mr. Simon was ranting about. I was there— a nobody who was representing a small football website— along with some big names from “real” news organisations. We were all treated equally. Of course, there was a special place for the ABS-CBN crew, by virtue of their having exclusive broadcast rights. Hence, they had access to more places. But that’s a no-brainer.

    The people from the LOC whom I’ve met were very friendly. It didn’t matter to them who I was or who I was with. Walang opisyal na nagsuplado sa amin.

  11. Mr. Trinidad and Mr. Simon are douchebags!!!

  12. Anna says:

    Decent and appropriate rebuttal against a lowly opinion of a hater, not fair, but it’s alright. Kudos criticaleye2! Go Futbol Pilipinas, for the love of futbol, go Philippne Azkals! 😀

  13. Nina says:

    Well said. Articles such as what Recah Trinidad make me angry, hurt, but most of all, sad. Most people who try to bring football down are those who don’t understand and love the beautiful game. Or maybe, they probably just want to be the cool naysayers, that on the first sign of trouble comes want to get to say “I told you so”. These are the people who try to pull anyone they perceive as sitting on high horses down, when they themselves are the ones guilty of it. It ain’t attractive. Taking the “half-breed” issue for instance. Fyi, most national teams around the world are composed of these so-called “half-breeds”. FIFA itself does not disallow it. Germany, a country which boasts of having one of the most successful national team, is a perfect example. Miroslav Klose was born in Poland but chose to play for Germany. Mesut Ozil, one of the stars of the 2010 world cup, is Turkish-German. Lucas Podolski was eligible to play for Poland and Germany but decided to play for Germany. And i used Germany as an example because we all know what happened there in history. Some countries even naturalize players, such as Singapore. People who cry foul about them being not “pure” Filipinos are like Lord Voldemort wanting only “pure bloods” to play for their team. In this day and age, being of mixed blood is nothing new. Just because a person was born somewhere else or have only one parent as a “pure” filipino does not mean they are LESS Filipino than us. We should not make them feel as if they are second class citizens. The fact is, they chose to identify with us. In my eyes, that makes them better than all those Filipinos, born and bred here, who, if given the chance, would deny their perceived lowly Filipino ancestry. There is a term for views like these, and it’s bigotry.

    And can you really blame the national team? In a country where basketball is the dominant game, where basketball players are gods, the PFF have to exhaust all avenues so we can have a bigger pool of talents. And where can we find them? In countries which have decent football programs. And if i may be blunt, if you’re dead set on pointing fingers on the overnight celebrity status of the “half-pinoy” players, blame us fans not the players, maybe even the media. And those who make fun of the players for endorsing whatever product, please bear in mind that they don’t get allowances or even get paid high. The team rely on funds to keep them going. They need to earn a living too, you know.

    Fans of the beautiful game have to resort to watching live streaming for big international games like the Champions League. I do this, so thank god for the internet. If i don’t get a decent live stream, i look for chat rooms or twitter accounts who give updates on the game. For the love of the game, i would stay up late studying until a game starts, usually at 2:45am local time. What i would do for the Philippines to have a premier league of it’s own. What us football fans would do for the Philippines to finally qualify for a World Cup. As a friend of mine said, the day that happens, he can die happily. So can you really blame us for celebrating the Phil vs Sri home game as if it were the World Cup finals? It’s the singular event in Philippine football history where us fans felt elation at finally, finally being able to watch a FIFA official event. At a home stadium, no less. Never mind if it was just phase one, a qualifier to the qualifier. Winning the game was the cherry on top.

    True fans would be the first to admit that we have a long way to go. And we’re not talking couple of years. Heck, if we could qualify for the Qatar World Cup, that would be awesome and beyond miraculous. But we are realists too. What is important is that our players get a lot of international exposure, even if they’re just friendlies. And surely we’ll be on our way. It’s not an impossible dream. Other countries have done it; Japan, South Korea, and North Korea to name a few were not powerhouses decades ago. But they continued to work hard, continued to dream, continued to believe. Believers will continue to support the national team, win or lose. Because true fans of the beautiful game, once they give their loyalty to a club or a national team, give it until the end.

    And for those who accuse us of being arrogant, snobs, or elitists, then i pity you. That just goes to show that they have either a shallow or no understanding at all of the beautiful game. Because the same way that fans are passionate in basketball, boxing, rugby, golf, baseball, or whatever sport they support, that’s how we feel too. I am not trying to pit football against any sport here. I am REALLY glad that the game i love so well is finally gaining the recognition it deserves. And although i still personally think that football is more suited to Filipinos, who am i to say that FIlipinos should stop playing basketball? All i’m saying is give football a chance to grow in the Philippines. Because mark my words, when the time finally comes that the Philippine National Football Team qualify for the World Cup, you too will be one of us, screaming and celebrating with joy.

  14. Nina says:

    Well said. Articles such as what Recah Trinidad re-printed and Danny Simon made make me angry, hurt, but most of all, sad. Most people who try to bring football down are those who don’t understand and love the beautiful game. Or maybe, they probably just want to be the cool naysayers, that on the first sign of trouble comes want to get to say “I told you so”. These are the people who try to pull anyone they perceive as sitting on high horses down, when they themselves are the ones guilty of it. It ain’t attractive. Taking the “half-breed” issue for instance. Fyi, most national teams around the world are composed of these so-called “half-breeds”. FIFA itself does not disallow it. Germany, a country which boasts of having one of the most successful national team, is a perfect example. Miroslav Klose was born in Poland but chose to play for Germany. Mesut Ozil, one of the stars of the 2010 world cup, is Turkish-German. Lucas Podolski was eligible to play for Poland and Germany but decided to play for Germany. And i used Germany as an example because we all know what happened there in history. Some countries even naturalize players, such as Singapore. People who cry foul about them being not “pure” Filipinos are like Lord Voldemort wanting only “pure bloods” to play for their team. In this day and age, being of mixed blood is nothing new. Just because a person was born somewhere else or have only one parent as a “pure” filipino does not mean they are LESS Filipino than us. We should not make them feel as if they are second class citizens. The fact is, they chose to identify with us. In my eyes, that makes them better than all those Filipinos, born and bred here, who, if given the chance, would deny their perceived lowly Filipino ancestry. There is a term for views like these, and it’s bigotry.

    And can you really blame the national team? In a country where basketball is the dominant game, where basketball players are gods, the PFF have to exhaust all avenues so we can have a bigger pool of talents. And where can we find them? In countries which have decent football programs. And if i may be blunt, if you’re dead set on pointing fingers on the overnight celebrity status of the “half-pinoy” players, blame us fans not the players, maybe even the media. And those who make fun of the players for endorsing whatever product, please bear in mind that they don’t get allowances or even get paid high. The team rely on funds to keep them going. They need to earn a living too, you know.

    Fans of the beautiful game have to resort to watching live streaming for big international games like the Champions League. I do this, so thank god for the internet. If i don’t get a decent live stream, i look for chat rooms or twitter accounts who give updates on the game. For the love of the game, i would stay up late studying until a game starts, usually at 2:45am local time. What i would do for the Philippines to have a premier league of it’s own. What us football fans would do for the Philippines to finally qualify for a World Cup. As a friend of mine said, the day that happens, he can die happily. So can you really blame us for celebrating the Phil vs Sri home game as if it were the World Cup finals? It’s the singular event in Philippine football history where us fans felt elation at finally, finally being able to watch a FIFA official event. At a home stadium, no less. Never mind if it was just phase one, a qualifier to the qualifier. Winning the game was the cherry on top.

    True fans would be the first to admit that we have a long way to go. And we’re not talking couple of years. Heck, if we could qualify for the Qatar World Cup, that would be awesome and beyond miraculous. But we are realists too. What is important is that our players get a lot of international exposure, even if they’re just friendlies. And surely we’ll be on our way. It’s not an impossible dream. Other countries have done it; Japan, South Korea, and North Korea to name a few were not powerhouses decades ago. But they continued to work hard, continued to dream, continued to believe. Believers will continue to support the national team, win or lose. Because true fans of the beautiful game, once they give their loyalty to a club or a national team, give it until the end.

    And for those who accuse us of being arrogant, snobs, or elitists, then i pity you. That just goes to show that they have either a shallow or no understanding at all of the beautiful game. Because the same way that fans are passionate in basketball, boxing, rugby, golf, baseball, or whatever sport they support, that’s how we feel too. I am not trying to pit football against any sport here. I am REALLY glad that the game i love so well is finally gaining the recognition it deserves. And although i still personally think that football is more suited to Filipinos, who am i to say that FIlipinos should stop playing basketball? All i’m saying is give football a chance to grow in the Philippines. Because mark my words, when the time finally comes that the Philippine National Football Team qualify for the World Cup, you too will be one of us, screaming and celebrating with joy.

    • shornacker says:

      Magkaroon nga lang ng official Philippine Futbol merchandise masaya na ko eh! For the longest time pabili ako ng bili ng Kits ng fave clubs ko (Barca, Arsenal, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Lyon), pero Team Phils merchandise kahit anong halughog at hanap ang gawin ko wala ako mahanap kahit saan. Noon, di na ngayon thank God 🙂

      As an avid Futbol fan since childhood, it has always pained me how the Beautiful Game i so dearly love is just an afterthought in our basketball-crazy republic. Well basketball is my passion, but futbol is my obsession.

      In the mid 90’s swerte pa kasi pinapalabas ng live ang Serie A at Dutch Football dito, not to mention Champs League. Yes, i also stayed up late to study para gising pa pagdating ng games hahaha!

      That’s why reading the Trinidad article really riled me up.

      Trinidad’s article reeks of stupidity and an outright lack of intelligence. He actually surmises that we are all fools for celebrating a win against a supposedly weak team. That we are destined to fail when the stronger teams come knocking. Clearly he misses the whole point of it all.

      Well guess what, Mr. Sarap Mag Beer, we will celebrate victories and we will mourn defeats. That’s what fans do. Fan is just an abbreviation of Fanatic, in case you forget. We sing, we cry, we cheer, we groan. For any and every little thing.

      But at the moment, win or lose, it really doesn’t matter. WE WILL CELEBRATE. We celebrate the fact that FUTBOL is here and thriving in the country. We celebrate the journey, not the destination. We celebrate the players’ skill, sacrifice and the pride. We celebrate the dark ages of futbol’s irrelevancy in the Philippines, and we celebrate its popularity now.

      And should you, Recah Trinidad, pass away (hopefully soon), i’ll celebrate that too!

    • Nina says:

      Naaalala ko sa kanila yung kasabihan na maingay ang latang walang laman. Trolls like them make “controversial” articles to get a rise out of people, and probably just for the heck of naysaying. Kung baga, maka-kontra lang. At the end, it showed their ignorance and irresponsibility. The world will always have haters. He doesn’t understand that for us fans, football is more that just a game. It is love, pain, joy, blood, sweat, tears, success, defeat, pride, faith, humility, heart, soul, prayer, unity, memories, skill, talent, rivalries, intense, friendship, history. It is passion. It is all that and more. It is forever.

      So i say SCREW YOU to all the naysayers and trolls. BELIEVE IN YOUR TEAM!

  15. ConcernedForAthletes says:

    You said that the athletes were given tickets and chose not to watch…but were they really taken out of their quarters for 1 day and 1 night for this game? This is the only thing that struck me in recah trinidad’s article. All of the other issues were BS by mr. trinidad.

    • criticaleye2 says:

      PSC was the one which asked for the athletes to vacate their quarters so I’m not sure about exact times. I believe they were asked only during game day and were free to return after the game that same night.

    • ConcernedForAthletes says:

      Ok. Thanks for addressing that. I’m waiting to see if recah trinidad will answer to this reply 🙂 (which i highly doubt, napahiya na eh)

  16. anonymous says:

    I knew an answer to Trinidad/Simon’s article would come soon enough, and I’m glad that one was written.

    Bravo to you! I hope this gets published on a major newspaper, or at least is brought to the attention of the two people.

  17. serene21 says:

    THANK YOU for giving voice to sentiments that many of us are too frustrated to express. Where I could only say *aargh* and swear and put a palm to my face, you wrote a calm, sensible and strong rebuttal. I’m sure it gets tiring explaining to deaf ears and reaching out to stubborn, proud and unenlightened media, but I’m grateful a football insider didn’t let this irresponsible article slide.

  18. shornacker says:

    Inggit lang si Recah Trinidad sa popularity ng Azkals. Dami na daw endorsement deals. Siya kasi ang career highlight niya ay pagiging extra sa isang SMB commercial. 20 years ago pa ata yun!

    If you read the above rebuttal that exposed your irresponsibility (and patheticness) as a journalist, chances are mapapainom ka na naman niyan. Sarap Mag Beer motto mo sa buhay eh.

    By all means, gulp away. Sagutin ko na next 20 cases mo. Para mapabilis ang departure mo sa mundo.

    The country will be all the better for it, with one (or 2 kung yayayain mo si Simon) less idiot around.

  19. GRAEME MACKINNON says:

    Congrats criticaleye2 as someone else has already said a concise reply without hysterics in answer to a poorly researched article. The Sri Lanka game was only the PFF’s second attempt at hosting such a big football event with so many strict FIFA and AFC regulations. It is obvious from comments of football fans that even though the weather conditions were inclement they had a great time. We all agree that the PFF made mistakes at their first attempt during the Mongolia game in Bacolod. The PFF learnt from that experience and implemented measures to make the next experience against sri lanka better. And I am sure that following on after the Sri Lanka game, strategies to make the Kuwait experience better than the previous will do just that. Well done to the PFF for all their initiatives that have been implemented. I look forward to flying in from Down Under expressly to watch the AZKALS do the very best they can in front of a united passionate loud and proud crowd.

  20. Doug Fisher says:

    Naalala ko tuloy to..

    “Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger.”

    Opinions are like ass holes… everyone’s got one 😛

  21. Nina says:

    I don’t know if you’ve seen this guys but apparently, this Recah Trinidad made a new article, a mea culpa of sorts. “An apology to the noble Azkals” http://sports.inquirer.net/7951/an-apology-to-the-noble-azkals

    Why does it still leave a sour taste in my mouth?


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