PFF President Nonong Araneta pushing for football activities to resume
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 04, 2020 10:09 AM
“We submitted a 27-pager document and hopefully, IATF will allow us, our clubs, to practice. This just for the first phase is to practice, the second phase is to play. So if there’s no incidents in the practice sessions, then maybe we can resume the playing phase." - PFF President Mariano "Nonong" Araneta
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has definitely left its mark in the sporting world, forcing almost all major sporting leagues to postpone or even cancel their events, among those the multiple football and soccer leagues across the globe.
But as the world slowly begins to get back on track, some leagues have started to resume action as well.
The German Bundesliga, for example, resumed competition on May 16th following a two-month hiatus. Three months after suspending activities, the Spanish La Liga is also set to return on June 11th.
Fans still won’t be able to watch the action in the stadiums, but the return of two of the world’s biggest football leagues is surely a welcome sight for fans of the beautiful game.
With such developments, The Philippine Football Federation’s president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta hopes that the Philippines can also follow suit.
During his guesting on The Crossover podcast with Cedelf Tupas, Araneta shared that The PFF has already taken steps to push for football’s return to action in the Philippines.
“Last Friday, tumawag sakin si [Games and Amusements Board (GAB)] chairman Baham Mitra ng Davao because he was saying na kailangan namin mag submit ng protocols so that he can submit sa IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) for their consideration,” Araneta said. “We submitted it last Saturday evening, and yesterday, it was submitted to the IATF and it is now being reviewed by a group of people regarding the documents submitted.”
According to Araneta, the first phase of the proposed return of football activities is for the IATF to allow football clubs to resume practice. The second - should there be no issues or complications - is for competition to resume.
“We submitted a 27-pager document and hopefully, IATF will allow us, our clubs, to practice. This just for the first phase is to practice, the second phase is to play. So if there’s no incidents in the practice sessions, then maybe we can resume the playing phase. We utilized the FIFA documents also, the risk assessment and to start football in each county. So, we also used those documents to submit to the IATF. We also used the WHO documents.”
The Philippines Football League (PFL), the country’s professional football league was originally scheduled to kick off on March 21st, with six clubs expected to participate. The COVID-19 pandemic has since forced the league to re-schedule their opening.
Araneta maintains that the players’ safety is the first and foremost priority and hopes that the PFL can follow in the footsteps of the Bundesliga and La Liga.
“Of course, Number one that we have to consider is the safety of the players. If it’s not safe for the players, might as well not start it,” Araneta stated. “But it has been shown in other countries that has been worse-hit than the Philippines, they are starting their leagues, they are starting their practice sessions.”
“Of course Bundesliga has started three weeks ago, They already had two match dates, like nothing has happened as far as any cases is concerned. La Liga has already started its practice sessions two weeks ago, and they are supposed to start June 8 or June 15. It is a case-to-case basis for each sport. For football, in other parts of the world, football is being played, practice sessions are starting. As what we said, let us practice first, allow is to practice first then let’s see from there. From practice, whether we can play after practice or maybe one month of practices because the athletes need to practice," he continued.
In the proposed return to activities, Araneta stated that once given the green light, practices and games will be held at just one venue: the PFF National Training Centre in Carmona, Cavite.
“Yes, only in Carmona,” Araneta confirmed. “There are lights already, we just have to energize it. We have to construct something but it wont take so long. Meralco is ready to energize as soon as we finish the thing.”
As for the players, Araneta said that they indeed would love to get back on the pitch.
“Yes they want to play. The players want to play. We are starting just the PFL first with the clubs, we are not starting with the provincial teams. It is a different case. The approval will come from the LGUs and they have to do again the protocols for each regional football association and we will play football after that.”
“If we are successful with the clubs, then we will go to the provinces to present those things,” he added.
More than the return of competition in the professional level, Araneta says that he also hopes to see the return of the grassroots youth tournaments.
“Of course, we want to start the youth leagues, Under-13, Under-15, Under-17, so all these leagues are at the moment, postponed. It should have been the catalyst to put up a youth academy or a pool of national team players in the youth,” Araneta explained. “Nevertheless, it is just a setback at the moment, pero as soon as we are allowed to start, we will start again.”
“We are just talking about how many months, at most 1 year. It won’t stop us from implementing this youth leagues and the women’s tournament. It was just postponed, it will still be on maybe not now, but in the future. The plans are there,” he continued.
Araneta revealed that a youth league was in development for this year, before the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
“Yun yung nanghihinayang ako, yung youth league na dapat nag start this year, three age-groups.”
“Meron naman tayong Under-15 noon eh, pero now ang sabi ko nga, because of the sponsorship of Qatar Airways for the PFL, now we have money to start Under-17 and Under-13,” he added.
Check out the whole interview HERE.