The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has started probing reports of alleged fraudulent transactions using "stolen credit cards" in obtaining tickets for the Philippine Malditas, the national women's team which had a winless campaign in the recent Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.
The investigation was triggered by a report from a parent of one of the Malditas who was held by airport authorities while on her way back to the US. Airport officials, according to Tom Lee, father of Malditas member Monika Lee, told them the younger Lee was using a ticket illegitimately-purchased using a compromised credit card.
The elder Lee alleged it was not the first incident of a US-based Philippine women's team member being held in an airport on a similar offense.
According to Lee, airport officials explained that the "ticket was not authorized" or "was purchased using a reported credit card." They were only released when they bought their own tickets and dropped claims on those purchased by Malditas' team officials.
"I know this is a serious allegation and should not be taken lightly," said Lee in a letter addressed to PFF secretary-general Edwin Gastanes, a lawyer, last Jan. 15.
"What I am requesting from your office is to investigate the questionable behavior / improper acts (of an official or officials involved) and provide a response detailing what will be done to address these issues. I am confident that you will look at the questions and supporting details I have provided and will reach the same conclusion."
Malditas' head coach Ernie Nierras claimed he has yet to see a copy of the complaint.
Nierras promised to issue a statement when he sees one.
PFF National Teams Committee chairman Dan Palami, however, wants a thorough investigation of the matter as it will put Philippine football in bad light.
"The PFF needs to address this issue immediately. This is a serious allegation which could affect the reputation of Philippine football in the international community," said Palami, who is backing the Philippine Azkals.
The PFF confirmed receipt of the complaint but is quiet on the details of the probe.
A ranking PFF official said PFF president Mariano "Nonong" Araneta and Gastanes are seriously studying the merits of the case and will come up with a decision when pieces of evidence have been completed, and all parties, especially Lee and Nierras, have supported their sides.
"Yes the PFF already received this letter and had already started its investigation," said a PFF official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But we are keeping everything confidential for now. We'll make an announcement soon."
"What is important is that there is a complaint and the PFF, just like any other organization, is working on it."