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How good was the Qatar Airways deal for Philippine Football?

For years and years, football fans and even most of us in the industry have been thinking, what would salvage the country’s football program? I think, we just got the answer.

Since I started out as a fan, I have been following the progress of Philippine Football over the last decade and though around 2012 to 2014, we’ve enjoyed a lot of success thanks to the Philippine Azkals, there seems to be a lot of things missing.

Whenever I get to join some open play football in BGC, Circuit Makati or Quezon City, the first thing that I ask the people I play with is that, are they aware that we have a professional football league here in the Philippines.

Most of them said no and were even shocked when I told them that we have one. This just shows how minimal the impact of club football here in the country.

But thanks to the likes of Ceres-Negros FC, Kaya FC-Iloilo, and for some time ago, Global FC, club football has been introduced and brought closer to the masses. Their success in the continental stage, however, was not enough to draw more support.

Because of this, the Philippines Football League, despite being in existence over the last three years, drew just a few numbers of spectators in the stadiums or watching the games through the live stream.

However, 2020 might just see some things being shaken up. The Philippine Football Federation, through the efforts of President Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, has inked a three-year deal with Qatar Airways, a giant in the airline industry to be the title sponsor of the Philippines Football League for the next three years.

“We thank Qatar Airways for their willingness to help bolster Philippine football by establishing a partnership with PFF as Airline Partner and Title Sponsor of the PFL,” said PFF president Mariano Araneta, Jr.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive His Excellency Akbar Al Baker and PFF General Secretary Atty. Ed Gastanes

“The PFF, together with Qatar Airways, will pave the way in forging the sustainability of professional club football in the country.”

The big question now is, what good does this bring to the Philippine Football programs?

Big brand partnership = More investors

If this is not enough to show the investors here in the Philippines that we are serious about our football programs here, I don’t know what else can convince them.

A global brand that has been sponsoring clubs AS Roma, FC Bayern Munich, and Boca Juniors as well as FIFA World Cup 2018 and 2022, and the FIFA Club World Cup held in Qatar last year, has given us their support over the next three years.

Not only this will give the PFL a bigger exposure than ever but also it would give the people, especially the big companies like San Miguel Corp. and the likes the feeling that this will be sustainable and could open up more opportunities.

We’ve been waiting for this for years, even back in the days of the UFL and now that it is here, all that we hope for is that it will not go to waste. The efforts of Araneta to bring such a huge deal to the country required a lot of effort and commendation as well.

It would not be a quick-fire solution though to bring club football next to basketball which is and will always remain a big thing here in the country.

However, if we the league can build upon this humongous deal with Qatar Airways and a lot of investors start pouring their money into the league, this will be a sustainable one and hopefully, an enjoyable one for the fans.

More funding for our national grassroots program

The main discussion of the recently concluded PFF Congress and election revolved around how they can change the landscape of the grassroots program here in the country.

With the deal being sealed between the PFF and Qatar Airways, this just means more budget for more grassroots program all over the country. The PFF U-15 National Championships are now entering its final stages and are showing a lot of promise.

In our previous conversation with PFF President Nonong Araneta, he bared the plans of coming up with national U-17 competition and further down the round leading into the U-21 tournaments.

If this will all materialize, this will bring out the best from our local talents and would help us realize how talented our players are. There will come a time that we will not rely too much on reinforcements from outside the country.

Furthermore, this will allow the federation to give more focus on the things that matter the most, the future. If there are plans for national tournaments for different age groups, I’m pretty sure there will be more licensing programs, seminars and even football clinics that could be done thanks to the budget that will come in from this partnership.

It will be awesome to see our local talents plying their trades without living the country and just showing what they got in our national league. By then, we can say that we can be level or even better with our regional counterparts.

Drawing more interest from the outside

We’ve already discussed how this could impact future investors’ decision to help out in funding the league and the clubs but what about the interest from the neutrals? The ones who would like to know more about football?

Here it goes. Remember when Anton Del Rosario tapped Philam Life to become his league’s title sponsors? It created quite a buzz in the local football scene and saw quite a respectable number of fans watching the games every week.

Thanks to his relentlessness and passion for his craft, he was able to get someone who shares the same passion with him.

Now put that into the PFL’s partnership with Qatar Airways, an airline company that sponsors the big clubs in Europe and South America. These continents breathe football.

This deal did not happen in just one day, one week or one month. It took a couple of years before Araneta was able to convince Qatar Airways to help the league and the federation.

Regardless of how long it took, what’s important is they arrived and they are here to bolster the program. Thanks to the relentlessness of the federation to get this deal done and the love for the sport here in the country.

Now that they are helping out the league, I’m sure at least 4 or 5 out of your 10 friends will show interest in football because of the huge brand backing it.

And when they start to see how beautiful the game is, everything will come in naturally. It might take a couple more years to break the duopoly of Ceres-Negros FC and Kaya FC-Iloilo, the league will come to a point that everyone deserves to win the league and represent the country in regional and continental tournaments.

Filipinos tend to watch a sport that allows the country to showcase their talent outside the country and with Philippine Club football now getting a lot more accolades thanks to Ceres-Negros FC’s climb to the top of the ASEAN Club standings, only time will tell when the influx of fans will happen.

Those are just a few examples of what this partnership deal can do to the football programs here in the country. What else do you think can this mean for the PFL and the PFF? Let us know in the comments!

Photo Credits: Philippine Football Federation

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