PH solves stadium woes, keeps Suzuki hosting rights

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The Philippines is keeping its right to host the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup for the first time, after all.

The AFF Council on Saturday, March 12, agreed to retain the Philippines as host of one of the group stages of the prestigious tournament during its meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam.

In a statement sent by Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, who attended the council meeting in Vietnam, the federation welcomed the AFF decision, saying it will be both an opportunity and challenge for Philippine football.

The Suzuki Cup, which has a viewership of one billion for both live and television audience, will run from Nov. 19 to 26. It catapulted the Azkals in 2010 when the team beat Vietnam in Hanoi on its way to the semifinals.

Unable to sort out contractual issues with the management of the Philippine Sports Stadium and with the Rizal Memorial Stadium falling short of the standard as a primary venue, the PFF was forced to seek a reprieve from the AFF, which gave the federation a March 11 deadline.

The PFF, sources said, secured a stadium use contract for the PSS only last Thursday, March 10, night.

“Yes, the contract existence was only one issue, but there were issues that were also resolved,” said PFF general secretary Ed Gastanes.

“The PFF is thankful for the robust support of the Philippine Sports Commission and the meaningful cooperation of the Philippine Sports Stadium to help promote football especially to our nation’s youth,” the PFF statement read.