BY BONG PEDRALVEZ
UNABLE to secure FIFA sanction, Spanish Third Division team CF Madrid has been forced to cancel it two-match goodwill series in Manila, including its scheduled friendly match against the Philippine Azkals, on Jan. 7 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
"We received an e-mail message from CF Madrid last Monday that it was unable to get certification (approval) from the FIFA and had to beg off for the friendly against the Azkals," Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta Jr. said yesterday.
United Football League president Randy Roxas, whose UFL All-Stars were also set to play the Spanish booters on Jan. 10 at the Rizal Memorial pitch, confirmed the scrapping of the CF Madrid stint.
"We also received an e-mail from CF Madrid informing us of the cancellation of their visit to Manila because they failed to get the approval of FIFA," Roxas said. "The club was supposed to play the UFL All-Stars on Jan. 10, but that is now off.
"They (CF Madrid) are planning to reschedule their trip sometime in June in time for the celebration of Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day," he added.
Araneta said CF Madrid had wanted the push through with the match without FIFA sanction and make it a "practice game."
"But this would make it difficult to sell to sponsors because we wanted the friendly match with the Azkals to be televised," he said.
The CF Madrid-Philippines match was intended to kick off the build-up of the Azkals for their participation in the AFC Challenge Cup in Katmandhu, Nepal in March.
Araneta said the International Football Federation, known by its French acronym FIFA, also notified the PFF any friendly match involving the national team must be approved by the world body at least two months in advance.
"FIFA informed us the two-month notice is a requirement that should be followed if we are to hold any future friendly matches in the country," Araneta said.
He added the FIFA had already approved the Azkals’ friendly against the Malaysian national team on Feb. 29 at the Rizal Memorial pitch because it had informed the federation of the date in November.