Limpag: Araneta’s integrity

Mike T. Limpag

ONE of the things I said when I learned that the race forthe Philippine Football Federation presidency will be between Nonong Araneta and Ricky Yanson Jr. is that both don’t have any corruption issues. I still stand by that and, for the most part, there has been no mud-slinging from supporters from both camps. And that is good because to move forward, PHL football will need the support of both men’s supporters.

So, imagine my surprise when someone pointed out to me yesterday that a member of the Central Visayas Football Association insinuated corruption in Araneta’s term as the reason for the lack of grassroots development in the country. An unfounded accusation that has angered the PFF president who I’ve heard is thinking of filing charges.

The beef against Nonong has always been that he has poured most resources to the Azkals and lately, the PFL. He has addressed this—albeit, belatedly for some--when he said the entry of a new sponsor will allow the PFF to allocate more resources for youth tournaments next year. In previous years, there were national tournaments for the U23 and the men’s open, but that was because of the entry of sponsors who specified such--Suzuki for the U23 and Smart for the men’s open.

I was there when Smart made the offer and I tell you, that was when I said that finances in the PFF, under Nonong, will be handled differently.

Why? I’ve been to two Board of Governor’s meeting; the first time, almost 15 years ago, I sneaked in pretending to be a waiter and sitting with those applying to be probationary FAs, and the second time, almost eight years ago as an invited member of the media.

The difference between both were startling.

In the first one, when PFF finances were discussed, the room got silent and questions about how the PFF was spending its money, coming only from Jonathan Maximo of the CebuFA, were grudgingly answered and the discussion rushed to discourage more questions. One board member, a smug know-it-all from an area not known for football who kept bragging how he does things in his FA, fell silent when moments earlier, he couldn’t stop talking.

I wanted the discussion to continue because it was the first time that I learned it was a lie when officials say PFF doesn’t get much money. That year, the PFF was to receive P38 million from among others, Fifa(14.2M), Asian Football Confederation (P.3.7), Asean Football Federation (P6.5), local sources (5.5M)

Despite all that money, it would be in the red after the fiscal year after questionable expenses (P3.4M listed simply under “others”) and P20M for local competitions that were covered by sponsors. The BOG didn’t tackle it.

Under Nonong, it was different. The fiscal health was laid out openly and discussion was encouraged. Transparency in the finances was being encouraged.

That time, too, the CFA, headed by then Ricky Dakay, played a key role in making sure there is transparency, which makes the unfounded accusation coming from a CVFA board member all the more disappointing.

Like I said, the election next week will be crucial. Whoever wins will need the support of the loser to move forward. There’s no room for unfounded accusations.