Filipino football fans can now rejoice after the Philippines Football League was finally given the go-signal by national government authorities to kick off its long-delayed season on Oct. 24, with a double-header at the Philippine Football Federation national training center in Carmona town, Cavite.
“Yes, sir,” was the short reply of Games and Amusements Board chairman Abraham Mitra on Friday night when asked if the Inter-Agency Task Force in charge of the COVID-19 pandemic approved the opening of the league sanctioned and organized by the PFF.
“As long as it confirms with the JAO (Joint Administrative Order), go na tayo the IATF told us (it’s a go the IATF told us),” added Mitra of the directive issued jointly by the Philippine Sports Commission, the GAB, the Department of Health, and that IATF that laid down the health and safety guidelines for pro leagues, such as the PFL and PBA last July.
The GAB is the government regulatory agency in charge of overseeing professional leagues and sports.
PFL commissioner Coco Torre said the double header on Oct. 24 will pit the Azkals Development Team against Mendiola FC at 4:30 p.m., followed by the clash between Stallion-Laguna FC and Kaya-Iloilo FC at 8:30 p.m.
Powerhouse United City FC and Maharlika Manila FC tangle at 5 p.m. on Oct. 25, added Torre, who identified the Seda Nuvali hotel in Santa Rosa, Laguna, a 30 to 40-minute drive from the competition site, as the official quarters of the clubs.
“We visited the hotel last Thursday and the facilities for the PFL bubble are more than sufficient for our clubs,” Torre said.
“On behalf of the PFF, the PFL and legions of local football fans, we are grateful for chairman Mitra for his immense help so our league can finally kick off,” Torre added of the competition backed by Qatar International Airways.
Mitra acknowledged he was a certified football fan “and I am going into the (PFL) bubble myself to watch the games.”
He added: “We are closely working with the PFL and the PFF regarding the health and safety protocols at the competition site, hotel and schedules.”
Similar to what has been done in the PBA, the GAB chairman said, “All the participants in the PFL will have to undergo swabbing once they enter the bubble and, once tested negative, will not be able to go out of it until the end of the competition.”
Torre said the tournament will be a single-round series followed by the semifinals and finals, with matches to be played after every two days so players can recover.
“All in all, until the end of the tournament, we will have 18 matches in 27 days,” he said.
The tournament, which was supposed to begin in April, will start seven weeks after the clubs were allowed to train at the PFF national training center last Sept. 2, and will be held without spectators, based on protocols laid down in the JAO.
Torre said matches will be streamed on the PFL Facebook page and on YouTube.