With the increasing popularity of the sport in the country, a national football league is now economically possible, according to Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Mariano Araneta.
“Actually, we made a study. We conducted a study and it was done by Nielsen because we need a study to give us what football is all about in the whole country if we start a national league. And they said, football is number three,” Araneta explain in an interview with The Manila Times.
He stressed that the federation is happy with the positive outcome of their study especially with the findings that some provinces can actually support their own teams in the future national league.
“It’s very encouraging that there are cities that can support a professional team, according to the study by Nielsen. Cebu was one of the top provinces named,” he stated.
“In Mindanao there are actually three; Davao, Cagayan De Oro and Zamboanga. In the Visayas, there is also Bacolod and Iloilo. Here in Metro Manila, Quezon City is the number one here in terms football support. Laguna was also mentioned.”
The sport, which experienced an increase to its popularity in 2010 when the Azkals managed to put the country back to the football map, is slowly catching to its more popular counterparts in the country.
“We are happy that everyone is now involved. The more people involved in football, the better. Football is a game that we can excel in,” he said.
In the recent years, the country’s de-facto premier football league, the United Football League (UFL), has also been facing the influx of fans coming in to watch the games.
According to Araneta, this comes as a result of the recent success of the Azkals in the international scene and the growing number of big names coming in to play in the country.
“The popularity of the game in the country comes with the success of the Azkals. Perhaps in the last games of the UFL, there were more than 500 people watching now because the presence of the top players,” he said.
The head of the country’s football governing body declared that with the rise in the amount of fans of the sport, they are more inspired to strengthen their bid to host a national professional league in the coming years.
“The fans are there. So it is just a matter of doing fan-based development so that they will be loyal to the team. We are very encouraged with the study, actually, and we have started already planning for the professional league.”
“It is not what we call flooded with support or something like that but its good enough to make the league feasible and economically viable that what we are after for,” Araneta concluded.
JAELLE NEVIN REYES