Support the Azkals on Sept. 8 | Inquirer Sports

Support the Azkals on Sept. 8

/ 01:57 AM August 04, 2015

Like basketball and boxing, football looms large as a sport in this country where everyone seems to wear the stripe of a favorite team.

The Gilas Pilipinas five, Teams Pacquiao and Nietes in the ring and the Azkals on the sod continue to be sources of national pride.

But while the manic stomping in packed grandstands rumble through basketball games and boxing contests, less than desirable attendance plagues football and its matches probably more than any other spectator sport in the country.


Although it is the discipline with the largest fan following in the world, football has failed to attract large crowds locally, a situation that has frustrated the Philippine Football Federation and sparked personal catharsis among its leaders.


True, the Azkals have brought local soccer to greater heights that today the Philippines is much more than a blip in the international soccer scene.

The national team has also tapped a wellspring of strength and inspiration for young soccer players wanting to grow up to be Azkals while laboring in crude and dusty plots in the countryside.

But fans and followers who truly believe that football is the best fit for the Filipino’s build, quickness and nimble feet and hands have not done more.

They have yet to come out more often to cheer for their local league favorites and the Azkals, and translate their groundswell of support into their physical presence whenever the national team plays at home.

The PFF has an open invitation to football fans and targets sports aficionados looking for variety and a welcome change in atmosphere:

Please come en masse to the Philippine Sports Stadium on Sept. 8 when the Azkals play Uzbekistan.


Ticket prices are P500, P300 and P100 plus tax and applicable charges—comparable to the amounts you shell out for PBA games.

The match promises excitement because not only will the Azkals gun for their third straight victory in the World Cup qualifiers. They will also attempt to conquer a team 49 places above them in the rankings, put into focus their desire to become a force in Asian football, and advance much closer to their ultimate goal of one day qualifying for the World Cup.

When the Azkals beat Bahrain in the World Cup qualifiers on June 11, 7,000 fans showed up at the Philippine Sports Stadium, a venue in Bocaue, Bulacan, that can sit 20,000 fans.

Gate receipts netted P1.3 million and TV rights cleared P1.5 million. The combined earnings were not enough to cover the cost of hosting a World Cup qualifier which is nearly double the P3 million to P4 million in expenses to play an international friendly, at home or abroad.

If the Azkals market attracts more crowds or fill up its home venue, the team will have more money to invest in players and enough resources to compete.

And they wouldn’t have to scrounge for funds to cover essentials such as meals, security and medical personnel, airline tickets, accommodations and honoraria for match officials and players and the necessary incidentals.

Although home attendance in Azkals matches leaves something to be desired, PFF president Mariano Araneta is making a case for the Azkals, not out of desperation.

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His call to come out in force for the team on Sept. 8 is borne out of his organization’s firm resolve to increase the number of soccer fans— both on TV and the home venues like the PSS in the years to come.

TAGS: azkals world cup

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