The World Cup is really a pipe dream 2022

OKBET World Cup is A Pipe Dream
January 3, 2023

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“I was extremely cautious in allowing the stakeholders of Philippine football a very lengthy term to qualify for the World Cup. My aspirations have been heightened after watching little nations such as Croatia and Morocco accomplish marvels in the past Global Cup, defeating world champions such as Germany, Brazil, and Spain at various stages of the campaign. Given increased government and commercial backing, the Philippine national men’s football team should aim to qualify for the World Cup, if not in 2026, then in 2030,” stated noted economist and Harvard PhD Bernardo Villegas on this website on Wednesday. He was alluding to the dream he described in his 2016 book, Philippine Football: Its Past, Its Future. “I dedicate this book to all Filipino youngsters who have acquired a love for the wonderful game,” he said on the book’s dedication page. You are the hope for a World Cup before the end of the twenty-first century.”

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Mr. Villegas is regarded as the Prophet of Boom to all of you BusinessWorld readers. However, I believe he is unduly enthusiastic about the chances of Filipino youngsters competing in the World Cup, if not in 2026, then by 2030. He is optimistic that the Azkals, our men’s national football team, will qualify for the World Cup by 2026. He points out that our women’s national team has already qualified for the Women’s World Cup next year.

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Long before little nations Croatia and Morocco defeated large countries Germany, Brazil, and Spain in Qatar, countries far smaller than the Philippines were defeating Western global powers. Fourteen years ago, in June 2006, a year before Mr. Villegas got enamored with football, I wrote here, “Why are we not in the World Cup, many sports fans are asking when Third World countries with population less than seven million like Paraguay, Togo, Croatia, Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago (whose population is only one million) can each put together a football team good enough to play against football strongholds like England, France, Brazil, Germany and Argentina. After all, height is irrelevant in football.”

That did not motivate Filipino youngsters with a love for football to perfect their talents in order to compete in the World Cup in 2010 and 2014. Local football players are not driven to improve their abilities in the same way that the Japanese and Koreans who represented the Asia-Pacific area in Qatar are. They understand that fame and money will not be found in Philippine football.

The majority of the Azkals he wishes to see at the World Cup in 2026 are not homegrown. They are Stephen Schrock, Kenshiro Daniel, Gerrit Holtmann, Mike Ott, Manny Ott, Patrick Reichelt, Jovin Bedic, Carli de Murga, Angel Gurado, Amani Aguinaldo, Amin Nazari, Javier Patino, Iain Ramsay, Dylan De Ruycker, Simone Rota, Alvaro Silva, Oskari Kekkonen, Diego Bardanca, Daisuke Sato, Neil Etheridge, Michael Falkessgaard and Quincy Kammeraad. They are Filipino-born or raised children who were born or grew up in nations where football World Cup is a major, if not the most popular, sport.

Many members of the Philippine women’s football squad, who will compete in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, are as well. They are Tahnai Annis, Sarina Bolden, Isabella Flanigan, Quinley Quesada, Katrina Guillou, Carleigh Frilles, Kaya Hawkinson, Jaclyn Sawicki, Sara Eggesvik, Tara Shelton, Jessika Cowart, Sofia Harrison, Chantelle Maniti, Dominique Randle, Reina Bonta, Maya Alcantara, Ryley Bugay, Chandler McDaniel and Olivia McDaniel.

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Athletic Filipino guys are drawn to basketball because it provides them with both fame and money. College dropouts are guaranteed a monthly salary of P200,000 in their first year with the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). According to the Economic Research Institute for World Cup, the average income of Filipino football players in the professional leagues — United Football League (2009 to 2016) and Philippine Football League (2017 to present) — is P336,241 per year.

Mr. Villegas claimed that since football was colonized more recently by Americans, basketball and boxing have superseded it in public appeal, pushing away many football talents and contributing to football’s lack of success. Baseball, being the first sport brought by American troops, should be the most popular sport in the nation if this is true.

A baseball game between an Astor Battery company and an Army squad was played in front of Filipinos only weeks after the Battle of Manila. Governor-General William Howard Taft, who was a catcher for the Cincinnati Reds while attending Cincinnati Law School, advocated for baseball to replace cockfighting as the favored sport of Filipinos. Basketball was established as a women’s sport in 1910 by American instructors via the YMCA and the public school system. Until 1911, it was played in interscholastic competitions.

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When the National Collegiate Athletic Association was created in 1924, basketball and football were the only sports on the schedule. Baseball had to be introduced in 1928. A picture titled “1928 First La Salle Baseball Team” appears in a La Salle coffee table book.

Football World Cup, basketball, and baseball were part of the new University Sports Association of the Philippines (UAAP) athletic program when UP, UST, and NU broke away from the NCAA and founded the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) in 1938. The government completely sponsored the initiatives via the Philippine Athletic Association Federation (PAAF). In 1934, it constructed the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, which provided international-standard grounds for all sports.

After WWII, both the NCAA and the UAAP restarted their sports programs, but the NCAA abandoned baseball. While all schools cheered on their basketball and football teams, basketball games attracted larger numbers from students and the general public.

The World Cup semi-professional Manila Football League (MFL) and Manila Bay Baseball League existed alongside the commercial league Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) in the 1950s and early 1960s (MBBL).

Yco, San Miguel, and Yellow Taxi all had teams in the MICAA, and they also had teams in the football commercial league. San Beda AC (the NCAA team strengthened by alumni), William Lines from Cebu, South Star, and Cheng Hua, the latter two fielded by the Manila Chinese community, were the other teams. The Canlubang Sugar Barons, Ysmael Steel Admirals, UST Gold Sox (alumni plus UAAP team stars), FEU Tamaraws (alumni plus UAAP team stars), and teams from American military posts Clark Field Red Wings, Sangley Point Bluejays, and Subic Bay Renegades competed in the MBBL.

The MFL and MBBL competitions were tough, attracting large audiences. Basketball, like college sports, attracted far larger audiences than football and baseball. Football is sluggish and dull to Filipino sports enthusiasts when compared to basketball.

A soccer game lasts 90 minutes, however it may occasionally be extended to 120 minutes on World Cup. The ball is often kicked back and forth. Because a defender kicks the ball away from the attacker, a skilled offensive move lasts no more than 30 seconds. That is why objectives are uncommon. Many games result in a scoreless draw or a 1-1 tie. Penalty shootouts are used to settle knockout games that conclude in a draw. Penalty shootouts reduce soccer to a duel between two players – rival goalkeepers. All 120 minutes of deft dribbling and gorgeous passes wasted.