By Marc Anthony Reyes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Olympic Committee reiterated on Wednesday its recognition of the Philippine Football Federation group led by Mariano Araneta, announcing that it has submitted its recommendation to the international football association (FIFA) to sanction the faction in the troubled association.
Chair Monico Puentevella said the POC also assured the national team members, collectively known as the Azkals, that they would not be disbanded as earlier reported.
"I assured them that it is the Philippine Olympic Committee, which finally decides who gets accredited and who does not," said Puentevella during the team’s sendoff Tuesday for the AFP Suzuki Cup semifinals in Jakarta Tuesday night. "That by reaching the semifinals, this country should reward them and not disband them. This is not the way we reward our athletes."
Puentevella said he assured national football coach Simon McMenemy on the team’s status. He said they did not have anything to worry about other than football.
According to Puentevella, the FIFA is now reviewing the papers they submitted endorsing recognition for Araneta's group.
During its congress on November 27, the PFF board elected Araneta as president after ousting Jose Mari Martinez due to total loss of confidence. The FIFA, however, continued to recognize Martinez as the election was not included in the congress’ agenda.
Puentevella and Araneta will be joining the team on Wednesday in Jakarta and plan to take this matter up officially with the Asian Football Federation in case it can still be reconsidered for the next or future matches.