MANILA, Philippines — The International Football Federation (FIFA) on Tuesday gave its full recognition to the presidency of Mariano “Nonong” Araneta in the Philippine Football Federation (PFF).
In a three-page letter sent to the association, FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said the FIFA, backed by the opinion of FIFA vice president Geoff Thompson, validated the election of Araneta, who replaced Mari Martinez.
“Based on the opinion (of Thompson), we consider that the motion to remove Martinez was accepted and that he has been replaced by Araneta as the new PFF president,” Valcke said in the letter.
Martinez was replaced as head of the association during the PFF national congress held last November 27.
Thompson based his opinion in the existing Article 13.5 of the PFF which states that “only the PFF Congress, by affirmative vote of two thirds of the entire voting membership may remove and replace the PFF president upon the recommendation of the majority of the board of governors.”
“I am satisfied that article 13.5 prevails,” said Thompson, also FIFA’s Chairman of the Association Committee.
“I am therefore in the opinion that the decision of the PFF congress to remove and replace the PFF president was taken according to PFF statues.”
“According to the minutes of the meetings of the (PFF) Board of Governors held on Sep. 29 as well as Oct. 29 which resumed on Nov. 27, the Board of Governors did indeed adopt a motion to remove Martinez from office,” Thompson said in the letter.Araneta was elated with the development.
“We sent all information and the video of the elections and what we did was in accordance to the rules they (FIFA) made an opinion,” Araneta said during the PSA Forum on Tuesday at Shakey's UN Avenue.
Martinez was ousted reportedly due to a number of financial issues, including questionable transfer of funds to former PFF executive vice president Henry Tsai as well as other dubious transactions.
Araneta, who came from the Iloilo Football Association, will hold on the PFF presidency until Nov. 26, 2011 with Ismael Batiles Jr. as the executive vice president.
Martinez, who was elected in 2008 succeeding current PFF chairman emeritus Johnny Romualdez, can appeal his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sports, according to Araneta.
“He can appeal the case to the CAS but as far as FIFA is concerned, it’s a close matter,” said Araneta, whose first order of business is to recover the association’s budget deficit of about P2.8 million.
The new PFF leadership pledged to continue its full support to the national football team, which mesmerized the country this month with a semifinals finish in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
The PFF, in fact, has lined up several international tourneys for team known also as the Azkals including AFC Challenge Cup against Mongolia on Feb. 9 and 16, the World Cup qualifiers and the Southeast Asian Games.
The Azkals’ recent success, which include a victory over defending champion Vietnam in the group stage, allowed the Philippine team to get media exposures and financial backings, specifically from sports patron Manny V. Pangilinan and Asia Brewery.
“I'm glad that more sponsors are coming and we assured that the money will go properly and be transparent with our governance,” Araneta said.
The Azkals stint ended on Sunday when Indonesia completed their 2-0 win in the semifinals as Cristian Gonzales scored all of the goals made that included a 25-yard strike off keeper Neil Etheridge in the 43rd minute of the second leg.
“When you look back at the roads and the steps we’ve taken to get to where we are, considering the politics, the lack of facilities and infrastructure, the lack of professional players, what we did here was miraculous,” PH coach Simon McMenemy said.
“It was the culmination of a nice run for us,” team manager Dan Palami said. “We didn’t expect us to reach the semis, however, I think the credit goes to the players and we gained a lot of respect as far as being recognized as a good team in football in the region.”
Araneta said they will revive a national tournament, which was last held 2006 and 2007, will be held in late April with the Under-19 men’s and Under-16 women’s tournaments.