Garcia open to hosting Futsal World Cup

Garcia open to hosting Futsal World Cup
NEW PROGRAM. PFF president John Gutierrez (center) joins grassroots consultant Tom Byer, Cebu City Sports Commission chairman John Pages and officials of the Central Visayas Football Association during the launch of the “Football Starts At Home” program. / CONTRIBUTEDCONTRIBUTED

CEBU City Acting Mayor Raymond Garcia welcomes the plan of the Philippine Football Federation to make Cebu as one of the host cities of the Fifa Fustal Women’s World Cup in November 2025 after the country won the bid.

PFF president John Gutierrez, who launched the Football Starts At Home program in Cebu on June 24, 2024, dropped by the office of Garcia to ask for support for the hosting of the first-ever Fifa Women’s World Cup.

“I am here to ask the local government unit of Cebu for the support because we are looking at having some of the games played here either elimination, semifinal, quarterfinals or even grand finals,” Gutierrez said.

“I am here to speak with (Acting) Mayor (Raymond Alvin Garcia) to request support for the 2025 Fifa Futsal Women’s World Cup,” he added.

When asked why PFF considered Cebu, Gutierrez said Cebu is considered due to the existing healthy football community, as well as available facilities.

“The football community here is very healthy. In the last national tournament, Cebu emerged as the champion... and the Central Visayas Regional Football Association is one of the biggest and most organized in the country,” Gutierrez said in a mix of Tagalog and English.

Gutierrez said it will be participated in by 16 countries.

Gutierrez said the Fifa Futsal World Cup is one of the prestigious sporting events in the world, saying the Philippines is so blessed to host the first Futsal Women’s World Cup.

“Players from other countries like Spain, Italy, Brazil, and Argentina only dream of getting to the World Cup, but we, as the host, are already qualified. We are the first host of the first ever Fifa Futsal World Cup,” Gutierrez said.

In a press conference on Monday, Garcia welcomed the opportunity to host the Fifa World Cup, saying he will be waiting for the formal letter of intent.

Garcia said it is an opportunity for the city to be able to “expand” its tourism.

“Once you bring a sporting activity such as this, with Fifa being the biggest organizer of sports in the entire world... it is a great pride that the women’s futsal has been awarded to the Philippines to host, and an even greater pride that they have chosen Cebu City,” Garcia said.

Garcia said as to the preparations, it is still “premature,” but regarding the readiness, the city can really handle hosting the event.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Sports Commission chairman John Pages said they plan to meet Marissa Fernan, the head of SM Cebu, and Hans Sy, the owner of SM, to convince to fast-track the completion of the SM Seaside Arena in time for the November 2025 schedule of the Fifa Futsal Women’s World Cup.

Pages said this is their main challenge now the completion of the SM Seaside Arena.

Despite the challenge, Pages still expressed enthusiasm in hosting the event.

“For Cebu to be given the opportunity to host one of the biggest sporting events of 2025 is an honor,” Pages said.

Sought for comments, Cebu City Acting Vice Mayor Donaldo Hontiveros said the completion of the SM Seaside Arena will be a perfect venue for the hosting of the event.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez joined PFF grassroots consultant Tom Byer, Central Visayas Regional Football Association head Rodney Orale and Cebu City Sports Commission chairman John Pages.

The program is geared at getting the parents of the potential players involved as their kids first coaches at home.

“The target is to teach the kids how to control the ball using a small space in their houses,” said Orale.

Orale said once the kids master the ball, they can start on other drills. / AML, ML

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