PHILIPPINE football is slowly picking up the pieces in this pandemic, with teams in the Philippine Football League (PFL) set to resume training for the new season. The season was supposed to start on March 21, which now seems like a lifetime ago, what with the numerous changes and challenges we have faced since then.
The players will undergo a final round of Covid testing on Aug. 31 before they will be allowed to resume training on Sept. 2. I hope no players test positive for the disease so we can have our restart. With the PFL being the only football league allowed to resume play, our own local domestic league will also be the only one left for football fans and players in the country—unless, of course some school or small town league is doing its own version of the Sorsogon bubble.
This is a silver lining as it could give the league the attention it deserves. We all know how crucial this season is, what with the second (or is it third?) rebranding of our local professional league. We have had the United Football League—which, in the early seasons was the best—then the first version of the Philippine Football League, then the much ballyhooed Philippine Professional League before we got this latest PFL version, now sponsored by Qatar Airways.
There haven’t been many updates about the teams joining this season, but one of the positive developments is Maharlika FC, a new club which has signed a few veterans, including Anton del Rosario and Jerry Barbaso. Both are former members of the beleaguered former champion Global FC, which has struggled financially over the past few years. And like other former players unfortunate enough to sign up for Global FC, both have back pay to collect.
Global, curiously, has been silent in the past few weeks after its latest financial struggle was exposed, one that had the club even unable to pay a measly P4,000 to a graphic artist. Baham Mitra of the Games and Amusements Board had stepped in, but the last time I checked with the chairman, he said the club hadn’t even replied to their letter.
As for the PFL, there were threats to strip the club of its license, but I haven’t heard if the move pushed through. It is understandable why. With only a few clubs in the league, I think the PFL is hoping Global can somehow survive its latest struggle.
Then of course, there is United City FC, the former Ceres FC. Fans are wondering whether it will be as deadly as its former identity or whether Kaya FC can finally get over that hump and seize the title from them.
Well, we are all going to find out in the next few weeks.