Although the Loyola Meralco Sparks were not involved directly in the filing of complaints against Global, which ultimately led to the club being expelled from the UFL Cup, the Sparks have been on the receiving end of some of the most significant developments in its wake.
Firstly, Loyola have been moved to the other side of the UFL Cup bracket and will face a different opponent in the Round of 16. Secondly, because Global avoided any punishment in the UFL League, the Sparks narrowly miss out on second place, and the potential qualification to the AFC Cup playoffs that the position entails, should Ceres also claim the UFL Cup.
Despite the significant impact on the Loyola Meralco Sparks, team manager Armand Del Rosario is choosing to keep the bigger picture in mind, with longterm progress of the sport his primary concern.
“At the end of the day both the League and all the clubs need to be more professional and held to a higher standard. If we want football to continue to develop in the Philippines this needs to happen,” he intimated.
“We all want football to continue to grow in standard and popularity, so issues like this will need to be addressed at some point. Although the decision to take Global out of the Cup even if the alleged foreign player didn’t play in the Cup, is controversial, I see it more as, at least a decision was made. Controversial as it may be and delayed as it was, at least a decision was made and penalties doled out. Of all the teams, it effects the Loyola Meralco Sparks the most directly. It takes us out of that second place spot in the League, which if Ceres wins the Cup makes us the automatic representative. It also moves us up in ranking which almost ensures we play Ceres before the Final of the Cup. It’s a bit frustrating to say the least, however, I am just happy this issue is now behind us and sanctions were given. Now Clubs will have to ensure they follow the rules strictly going forward. At the same time the league now sees that they need to implement the rules more strictly as well. Growth is happening. It may not be the decision the club likes, but its one step back and two steps forward.”
The player deemed ineligible was Satoshi Otomo, who although Global claims had clear Filipino heritage, did not hold the necessary documents for the league to deem the player a local. New Sparks recruit, Alvin Sarmiento, faced a similar situation earlier in the year, with the club opting to use him as a foreign player until his papers were sorted out. The incident highlights that while such issues will become more prevalent, as the UFL grows in stature and more foreign-based Filipinos make the move to play in the Philippines, the clubs and the league alike hold responsibilities in keeping the sport’s best interest at heart.
“Earlier in the year we had Alvin Sarmiento, a player with clear Filipino decent but without the proper documentation. We played him as a foreigner until all the proper documentation came in. He now has his Filipino passport and we play him accordingly. In a situation like this, it’s not only the club’s responsibility to ensure the documents are in proper standing, but also the league to ensure all parties are following the rules.”
“If we want to compete with clubs in the region and on an international level, we need to be better as a club, and the league needs to be run more professionally. We will have bumps in the road here and there – it’s inevitable, this is what happens in developing countries. It’s trial and error and as long as everybody stays above board in their actions then the sport will be fine. Progress is key, and for as long as everyone is doing their part to improve the standards, the sport will thrive and football will live on.” http://onemeralcosports.com/loyola-sparks/armand-del-rosario-on-global-explusion/