The Loyola Meralco Sparks were happy with their historic victory over Geylang United FC in their opening match in the 2012 Singapore Cup Friday night.
But there was a bit of bad news for the club after it received notice from the Philippine Football Federation barring midfielder Matthew Hartmann from playing in the match, a day before kickoff.
Hartmann has been suspended by the Philippine Football Federation for a year from its sanctioned events because of his departure from the national team in last year’s Southeast Asian Games in the middle of the tournament. The suspension prevents Hartmann from suiting up for Loyola in the United Football League, a PFF-sanctioned competition.
The Loyola braintrust thought that the Singapore Cup stint was not covered by the PFF ban on Hartmann, who was included in the lineup for the game. The football body, however, had a different interpretation.
“Since they allowed Sparks to join the RHB Singapore Cup, they are interpreting it as a sanction by them,” wrote Roxas in a text message to News5.
“We were caught off-guard. The players were disappointed.”
Hartmann was also depressed by the PFF’s decision, but Roxas said this became the Sparks’ extra motivation to win the match.
The PFF Disciplinary Committee chaired by Gregorio Larrazabal said in a letter earlier this month that it had decided “to affirm the decision of the Disciplinary Committee in imposing a ban on Mr. Hartmann in joining the national team; and to modify the decision of the Disciplinary Committee in its decision imposing an indefinite ban on any football club or organization from fielding him in any PFF sanctioned tournaments, and limits the ban to one year, to be reckoned from the date of the Decision of the Disciplinary Committee.”
Roxas said that if the PFF wanted to stop Hartmann from playing for the Sparks, the federation should have extended the suspension to tournaments sanctioned by the Asian Football Confederation and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
Loyola will appeal Hartmann’s case before the PFF, as the Sparks are set to play in the RHB Cup quarterfinals in July.
News5 has sought PFF president Mariano Araneta’s comment on the matter, but he could not be reached.