Limpag: PFF under scrutiny

Fair Play
SunStar Limpag
SunStar Limpag

JEFF Cheng’s abrupt departure has put John Gutierrez and the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) under scrutiny, with critics coming out of the woodwork with rumors and what-not. Stories have come out of pending resignations to come in the coming days.

That’s good. Organizations like the Philippine Football Federation, which operates outside government control and dispenses funds from outside sources, deserve to be put under the microscope.

But for me, something is a bit off.

Where was this scrutiny in the previous administration? When obviously questionable things were happening? Like introducing a new long-term coach mere months after they announced a previous long-term coach?

The lack of scrutiny of those actions has led to the PFF being forced to shell out more than P70 million in compliance with two Fifa rulings after the previous coaches ran to the Fifa tribunal to force the PFF to pay their salaries.

Nobody said anything about that then or even now. The focus is on what Gutierrez may have done that led to the departure of Jeff Cheng. Of how his admin’s insistence on having locals involved may have led to the misunderstanding with the godfather of women’s football.

We deserve to know more about that Fifa ruling. How it came to be and why the coaches--yes, more than one--had to go to Fifa just to get paid what was due them. P70 million may be peanuts compared to what Jeff Cheng has spent for the women’s campaign, but it’s not peanuts when the money has to come from the PFF. And that’s only for the coaches, there are also payables to other parties.

As for Cheng’s departure, I’ve always thought it was inevitable.

Remember in August last year, after a historic run that included our first win in the World Cup? He said this: “I’m still here to support the team through the Asian Games and Round 2 of the AFC Olympic Qualifiers... I can’t say, though, what happens after the PFF elections in November. The direction the Federation will take after is entirely up to the next president.”

The direction the PFF is taking now isn’t to Cheng’s liking and so, as he implied last year he left.

And is the direction Gutierrez is taking wrong?

I remember in February 2011, the first congress after the Hanoi miracle, the PFF was talking about putting up plans so we won’t have to rely on heritage players in the future. The first quickie solution was the Little Azkals, sending a select group of U12 boys to experience European football culture. That didn’t pan out.

It’s been 13 years since that congress, generations of players have come and gone, and nothing has changed. In fact, it has gotten worse, as now, even in the age groups, we rely on heritage players, or we now want the PFF to rely on heritage players.

Cheng’s departure was unfortunate, given what he has done for the sport but it’s not the end of Philippine football. The scrutiny that the PFF is under now because of Cheng’s departure, is also fortunate. Let’s continue that and not limit it to the women’s side.

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