PFL makes adjustments to competition, eyes fan involvement

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2020 12:10 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines Football League (PFL) has made adjustments on how its fourth season will be held due to the novel coronavirus, commissioner Coco Torre confirmed.

The PFL was originally set to kick off its fourth season in March, but that has been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The league received a boost when the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) last week allowed professional basketball and football clubs to return to training, despite the quarantine protocols still in place all over the country.

"All is well, after the approval of the IATF to resume into training," Torre said in a press conference Wednesday.

Clubs are now testing their players and staff for COVID-19, and those with negative results can immediately start training. The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has given clubs strict protocols to follow, including a maximum allowance of 10 persons per training session.

"This is a big step for us in resuming the league, or to kick off the league," Torre said. "Hopefully, in due time, we will be given the go-signal."

Torre confirmed that the PFL has "adjusted the nature of its competition" due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has forced virtually all sporting activities to stop globally. Football leagues have gradually made their return, starting with the Bundesliga in May.

As for the PFL, they have had to shorten their fourth season.

"It was originally planned (to be) a double-round robin. Now, it's a single-round robin, just to continue this league and to fit it in the calendar year," Torre explained. "At this point, there is no definite starting point and end. So we adjust accordingly."

Fans will not be allowed to watch the games at the venue, the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, if and when the league kicks off. There are still plans for fan involvement, nonetheless. 

"We very much value the fans. We believe that it's because of them that the sport will continue to grow, so we do have some plans on how we can engage the fans come the time that we resume the PFL," Torre said.

"Since we can't invite them or allow them to the stadium, then we have to make our matches easily reached. And not only reached, but the quality of the production has to be really good for them to enjoy the game at the comforts of their home," he added.

"There will be some interactions as well, as a fan, for you to be able to interact with a certain player, so we'll roll out all these initiatives once we finalize everything."

Spain's La Liga used its "Applause to Infinity" initiative to ensure that fans' presence will be felt in their matches. Fans worldwide uploaded their applause to a website, with La Liga then creating a single track that is played in the 20th minute of matches.

Torre said they have been observing how leagues worldwide have resumed their matches, and are in touch with competition heads of different countries.

"We are sharing ideas, and as you know, it's a learning process," he said. "The dynamics will always shift because these are unprecedented times. We always develop our protocols."

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).