By NICK GIONGCO
MANILA, Philippines — Three Arab nations – Bahrain, Jordan and Kuwait – have agreed to provide a combined $100,000 annual assistance for the Philippine football team, Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Mariano Araneta announced on Tuesday.
The aid, Araneta said, is a big boost to the country’s quest to improve and popularize the sport further following the success of the Azkals in the recent AFF Cup where they advanced to the semis for the first time.
Apart from the money, these countries also assured the PFF that they will be willing to play host to the training camps of the Azkals, in their respective countries. The airfare and board and lodging of the Azkals will be shouldered by the host country, according to the PFF.
In a press conference on Tuesday at the Manila Yacht Club, Araneta disclosed that the $100,000 (about P4.3 million) initial funding has been sent to the PFF.
He also announced that the PFF also got a financial bonanza amounting to $150,000 as its share of gate receipts in the two semifinal games against Indonesia during the AFF Suzuki Cup last month. This amount is also now in the possession of the PFF.
As if this was not a boost enough, Araneta added that Japan is also throwing its support to the resurgent PFF with a pledge of $20,000 for grassroots development.
As to the Azkals' much-awaited AFC Challenge Cup showdown with Mongolia on February 9 at the Panaad in Bacolod, Araneta said it is green and go and that the general admission section of the 10,000-seat venue will be free to the public.
Team manager Dan Palami said the sudden influx of financial assistance should only make football grow even bigger in the coming years.
Source : Manila Bulletin