WITH the entry of Qatar Airways as sponsor, Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta Jr. sees a stronger and more stable Philippines Football League in 2020 and beyond, giving the next generation of outstanding local football players a chance to pursue professional careers.
“The PFL is one of the priorities we will address in the event I get re-elected. Like what we have in the PBA, I want our future football standouts to have something that they can aspire for,” Araneta, who is running for a third straight term as PFF chief, told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.
“We are grateful for Qatar Airways in helping us attain a bigger and stronger PFL,” said the self-made businessman and former national team mainstay, adding that two more teams are bidding to join the league and complete an eight-team cast for the 2020 season.
“We are now in the process of screening the applications of Army and BDO, and I believe they will be able to join the PFL next year,” said Araneta, who has been the steward for the past 10 years of the country’s steady rise as a force to reckon with in Southeast Asian and Asian football.
Although not one to toot his own horn, implied in Qatar Airways’ support and investment in the fledgling local soccer league, was the airline’s belief and confidence in the current PFF leadership.
Among the country’s achievements under Araneta’s watch was the rise of the national men’s football squad, popularly known as the Azkals, to their highest rating of No. 111 in the FIFA world ratings and reaching the continent’s biggest soccer event, the AFC Asian Cup, early this year in the United Arab Emirates
The Malditas, the national women’s squad, actually made it first to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup last year in Jordan, and came tantalizingly close to qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in France.