Football: PFF boss hopes clubs can be allowed to practice soon

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2020 02:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Mariano "Nonong" Araneta is hopeful that clubs will be allowed to hold training sessions soon, after the organization submitted a proposal to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the gradual return of football activity.

The 27-page document was submitted to the IATF last Saturday, with the PFF utilizing risk assessment tools recommended by FIFA and the World Health Organization to draft the protocols.

"Hopefully, IATF will allow us, our clubs, to practice," Araneta said in an appearance on the "Crossover Podcast," hosted by Cedelf Tupas and presented by Smart.

"If there are no incidents in the practice sessions, then maybe we can resume the playing phase," he added.

Araneta said that the players and owners of the clubs in the Philippines Football League "want to play." The league was supposed to start last April 18, but the kickoff date has since been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Football has been slowly returning in other countries, however, and Araneta believes that the Philippines can follow suit. 

The Bundesliga restarted in Germany last May 16, and La Liga, the English Premier League, and Serie A will return to action this month.

"These countries have worse cases than us," Araneta noted. "And talking about football, we are in an open area. You are talking about 8,000 square meters area of land, and only about 22 players will play."

"So it is not a congested area for players," he said. 

Araneta assured that the PFF and the PFL will take every precaution to maintain the safety of the players and everyone involved in the games, including doing testing before practice sessions and installing disinfectants in the practice area.

"Let us practice first, then let's see from there," he said. "If I am an athlete, I want to go out and play. And if my safety is guaranteed, I might as well play than stay home."

Araneta was among the seven heads of national sports associations (NSAs) who met last Friday to discuss their plans for resuming their sporting events, including lobbying the IATF for the return of teams and players to training. Also present were Sonny Barrios of basketball, Cynthia Carreon of gymnastics, Richard Lim of karate, Ariel Paredes of volleyball, Philip Ella Juico of athletics, and Ada Milby and Jake Letts of rugby.

Both Philippine Sports Commission chairman William "Butch" Ramiez and Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino have made it clear that it was up to the IATF to make a decision whether or not contact and team sports can resume.

According to the IATF's most recent omnibus guidelines, mass gatherings -- including sporting events -- are still barred in areas under the general community quarantine, which now includes Metro Manila. Outdoor non-contact sports and other forms of exercise such as biking, running, jogging, swimming, tennis, badminton, and equestrian are permitted.

However, physical distancing protocols must still be observed, and masks are still required. 

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).