Urgent reply from Philippine ‍football chief | Inquirer Sports

Urgent reply from Philippine ‍football chief

/ 01:43 AM November 27, 2019

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is holding an election for the top football post in the country on Nov. 29. Incumbent Mariano Araneta is running for a third term, but Ricky Yanson of the Negros Oriental Football Association raised several issues regarding Araneta’s program and candidacy. We hereby give the PFF chief space to air his side:

Greetings.

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My opponent in the upcoming Philippine Football Federation election, Ricky Yanson, had recounted the events leading to our collision for the top football post in the country on Nov. 29.

It was unfair for Ricky to paint me as someone who does not keep his word and someone who had been remiss of my duties as president of the PFF.

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Ricky had every right to announce his candidacy in September, but his announcement that I will be his running mate as vice president caught me off guard, more so since I was not there with him.

I still had more than two months to decide if I wanted to seek re-election, but Ricky may have gotten ahead of himself by announcing that I was seeking the VP post. He also had the nerve to tell me in our last meeting that he was willing to slide down to VP as a “birthday gift” for me.

Ricky had also missed out on disclosing why the Yanson family feud was one of the reasons why I’m running again. Ceres-Negros FC, the country’s top club and the standard-bearer in continental competitions, is owned by Ricky’s younger brother, Leo Rey Yanson, who is allied with his mother Olivia and older sister Ginnette, in the corporate dispute against Ricky and three other siblings. Both Ricky and Leo Rey are obviously major stakeholders of football in the country. Ceres is the Philippines Football League champion and a former AFC Asean zone champion. A Ricky win would increase the possibility of Ceres pulling out of the PFL, which will be a huge blow in our efforts to make our pro league stable and sustainable especially with Qatar Airways coming in as a sponsor.

The PFL is an important project for the PFF because of many reasons. Young players can now look to make a career out of football because we have a pro league. It also helps strengthen our national team. The more support for the PFL will allow us to infuse more funds for more youth and age-group tournaments.

Because of the Qatar Airways sponsorship, the PFF can now allot the funds initially intended for the PFL to a national Under-17 tournament starting next year.

Our national Under-15 tournament is also ongoing of which Ricky’s Nofa is one of the top teams. Again, it was convenient for Ricky not to mention this. It is sad to note that Ricky has pinned the lack of grassroots and age-group tournaments solely on the PFF under me. Since he assumed the position as Grassroots Committee chair a few years ago, Ricky has not held a single meeting to craft programs that our member football associations can implement. He did hold a Nofa Cup, a four-day event over the last few years, which again is commendable. In recent weeks with the election drawing near, Nofa organized the Mindanao Cup and Luzon Cup.

When I took charge of the PFF in 2010, I inherited an organization that was hounded by corruption and mismanagement issues. While a number of tournaments and programs have been implemented and our national men’s team “The Azkals” continued their rise, the first few years of my term was also spent sorting the governance and administrative aspect of the federation. It is easy to reduce running football in this country to holding tournaments. But it is definitely more than that. We may have not promoted the game enough through media, but we have been doing our job. Through our ties with other nations, the men and women’s national teams are able to hold training camps overseas at a lesser cost. We are now up to 12,000 coaches with grassroots badges. The number of “C” licenses also increased to 705. We have hosted close to 100 international matches and club matches. Football in this country has never been as vibrant as it is now thanks to other stakeholders. We want to continue that momentum.

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I am hoping to see through projects that I started, including the National Training Center which is being built with aid coming from the Fifa Forward program. Our national teams in the men and women’s divisions have continued to improve with a historic qualification to the AFC Asian Cup in 2018 (for women) and 2019 (for men) as a reflection on how far they have come.

I have served football for a long time, starting in the 1980s up until I became an official of the sport. My love and passion for the sport have never wavered. In fact, I am more motivated than ever to take football in this country to the next level. Thank you very much for your interest and attention to the Beautiful Game. 

Mariano “Nonong” Araneta

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