While waiting for the go-ahead for the community to resume activities amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, local football officials have started the ball rolling in preparation for a possible resumption by crafting guidelines to follow.
In an update released on Monday, the Philippine Football Federation shared that it has began moves towards a return to action for the sport and made adjustments with the conduct of its affairs, including crafting a set of protocols as guide which has been submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for consideration.
The PFF said that along with other stakeholders it has made representations to the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) for guidance to convince the IATF, the lead body in the country’s fight against COVID-19, to allow the sport to return gradually, first with practices and then for matches to resume in leagues like the Philippines Football League.
Its recommendations were included in a 26-page operations protocol it submitted to GAB in May, which, in turn, forwarded it to the IATF.
The PFF said in coming up with the health and safety protocols it also took direction from the guidelines set by football world-governing body FIFA and the World Health Organization.
The National Capital Region, as of this writing, remains under General Community Quarantine where mass gatherings like sporting events are still not allowed to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has 36,438 confirmed cases in the country.
To adjust as well to the situation it is currently in with COVID-19, the PFF deemed it fit to reschedule some events under its watch to dates still to be determined.
Among those affected are the Regional Festival of Football 2020, PFF Women’s League 2020, U15 Boys Championship 2020, U17 Boys Championship 2020, U16 Girls Regional Championship and U18 Girls Regional Championship.
The local sports federation said the start dates of said competitions will be dependent on the government’s guidelines for COVID-19.
The PFF also reaffirmed its commitment to the campaign of the Philippine national men’s football team, whose matches in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022/AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 fixtures are now slated in October and November 2020.
The Philippine Azkals will take on Guam on Oct. 8, China on Nov. 12 and Maldives on Nov. 17.
The Azkals are currently in third spot in Group A of the joint qualifiers with seven points built on a 2-1-2 record.
Syria (5-0-0) is on top of the heap with 15 points, followed by China (2-1-1) with seven. Maldives (2-0-3) is fourth with six points while Guam (0-0-5) has no points and is already eliminated in the race.
The top teams in the groupings in round two advance to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers and earn a spot in the Asian Cup.
The Philippines last faced Syria in the qualifiers in November where it lost, 1-0. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo