Local football to get COVID-19 funds
The local sporting scene is currently dead as a doornail, says Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
“I doubt if we can still hold [sports] events this year,” Tolentino stressed in a chat with Inquirer’s June Navarro.
It is easy for Bambol to make the call since national athletic competitions, including the Palarong Pambansa, Philippine National Games and Batang Pinoy Games, have been put off indefinitely due to the coronavirus disease pandemic.
Navarro reports that the only thing certain in Tolentino’s mind is the continuous training of athletes already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics as well as those in the national pool still striving to book tickets to the Summer Games, now scheduled from July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021.
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena, boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Iris Magno and gymnast Carlos Yulo have earned slots in Tokyo. Meanwhile, 62 wannabe Olympians are raring to hurdle Olympic qualifying tournaments in order to compete in the greatest sports show on earth.Among the nationals in the hunt are 2016 Rio Olympics weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, boxer Nesthy Pestecio, golfers Miguel Tabuena, Yuka Saso and Dottie Ardina, skateboarder Margielyn Didal and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe.
With the qualifying tournaments at a standstill because of COVID-19, Mariano Araneta, Philippine chief of mission to the Tokyo Games, is back temporarily as full-time football federation president and is making sure his house is in order.
Araneta reports that the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) will soon receive operational funds of $650,000 (roughly P33 million) from its governing body, the Federation International de Football Association (Fifa), to ease the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
Each of Fifa’s 211 member associations had been scheduled to get $500,000 each in July from the Fifa Forward program, but will now get the money as well as the remaining entitlements for 2019 and 2020 two months ahead in the wake of the health crisis that has brought soccer to a halt.
The PFF and the other member associations receive $1 million (about $51 million) each a year from the Forward program aimed at solidifying the growth of the sport in their countries.
The Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation also allot funds for infrastructure projects, including the planned PFF four-story national headquarters and dormitories in Carmona, Cavite.
Araneta said that construction for the P200-million building will start soon now that negotiations are being finalized for its 4,000-square meter site near Manila Jockey Club.
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