Philippines to host SEA Games’ football?

By Francis Santiago

There’s a possibility that the Philippines may end up hosting the football tournament of the 26th Southeast Asian Games.

Indonesia will host the region’s biennial meet from Nov. 11 to 25 in Palembang and the capital city of Jakarta, but it may not be able to stage the football competition if the International Football Federation will suspend its local federation for its failure to hold a scheduled election last month.

Philippine Football Federation chief Mariano “Nonong” Araneta Jr. said if the Football Association of Indonesia’s (PSSI) gets suspended, there’s a big possibility that SEAG organizers may opt to open the hosting chores to ASEAN members.

“We’re open to that possibility (bidding to host the football event) because we are qualified,” Araneta said. “But first we have to wait for the FIFA decision.”

Araneta said the country is more than capable of hosting the event, citing the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City and the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila as possible venues. When the country hosted and ruled the 2005 SEA Games, the 15,000-seater Panaad Stadium was utilized as football venue.

The sanction won’t only bar Indonesia from playing in FIFA-sanctioned events, including the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and any Asian Football Confederation club competitions, but would also keep the football-loving nation from competing in the sport in the biennial meet.

Reports said the looming suspension stemmed from the PSSI’s failure to elect a new set of officers when its scheduled election on May 20 was called off.

FIFA has given PSSI more than three chances to reset its election, but to no avail, leaving the July 6 schedule as FIFA’s last straw.

Anticipating a suspension scenario, the Malaysian football officials have reportedly made its intention to host football by sending feelers to the SEA Games Federation Council.

Complications may arise from the suspension, though.

Despite the brouhaha, Araneta said the PFF will push through with the formation and preparation of the men’s Under-23 national team, saying they have already came out with 40-man pool which he said may train in the Middle East – either in Kuwait or Qatar – as part of its final buildup. Manila Bulletin