Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye to 2010. It was fun while it lasted.

Spain wins the 2010 World Cup in South Africa that was successful in so many ways * And I love that pic of Spanish fans celebrating in Barcelona after La Furia Roja beat the Dutch * Wasn’t that wild? Addressing the DLSU Women’s Football Team before their finals vs UST. * Tough loss by the Tigers to UST. Tried to capture it best as I could. * Singapore twice this year. Hong Kong. Vietnam and Indonesia. * Universal Studios * Hong Kong Disneyland * the Lakers win NBA * Phil Jax is the Lord of the Rings * The Blind Side * New kits: Liverpool FC, Spain, Seattle Sounders, Vietnam, AC Milan, Germany & FC Barcelona * cursed Nike commercial * Paul the Octopus * Having fun watching the Germans show the world a thing or two * Eastwood * Ryan Buenafe * Ateneo Blue Eagles * Can you say ‘three-peat? * 12 titles in the Norman Black era * Teaching in Ateneo * the Gatorade Brand Ambassadors * Great Lapu Lapu Run * stupid people I work with especially dumbasses with attitude problems * playing hoops * jumping back into the fray of PFF business * Mari Martinez * Nonong Araneta * Dan Palami * Media Officer Philippine National Men’s Football Team * My Dinh * Bung Karno * Bus rides * writing a special section that came out in Business World * Halikinu Radio * Goodbye NU 107 * Rebound and our struggles with a lousy distributor * PCU is unjustly persecuted * clashed with FEU once more * wasn’t it fun trying to cover the Alaska Aces? * Larissa Riquelme * Kiefer Ravena * posing with the World Series trophy * Diego Maradona I have no idea what to make of him * Ironman triathlon * Camarines Sur * Tim Cone * advocating instant replay * corruption in sports * PFF 7th Ordinary Congress * San Beda demolishes the NCAA * Chickenweather * Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders * Cliff Lee * Thomas Muller * Mesut Ozil * enough of Brock Lesnar * Arianny Celeste * Vizconde * I have a ticket to the 2011 NBA All Star game but I don’t have money to fly there * In the Huddle * Toy Story 3 * Kick Ass * What the hell is going on in the X-Men? * the Boxer Rebellion * Techy Romantics * Your Imaginary Friends * the Gentle Isolation * Broken Social Scene * Club 8 * Brownman Revival * the Camerawalls * Sleepwalk Circus * the Gaslight Anthem * Rancid * WAGs * Glee * Flash Forward * Friday Night Lights * Bianca Saldua * Sara Carbonero * Goodbye Rafa Benitez * Landon Donovan in Everton * 2010 Suzuki Cup * 2010 NBA Asia Challenge * Norell Enalai * Abbey Clancy * Katy Perry * NBA Premium * Tokyo Police Club * chicken rice * Manny Pacquiao * Versus has a new album * The One School * GroupM * Vice TV * Iron Man II * Disney buys Marvel * Blackberry * iPad * Azkals fever hits Southeast Asia * LeBron James turns heel * I love Kelly Kelly * Nexxus invades WWE * Amanda Bisk * The Big Bang Theory * Kaley Cuoco * can you believe that the SF Giants are champs? * Tim Lincecum * vuvuzelas * wikileaks world * no Google in China * Google’s Cloud system * Eyjafjallajokull * Shogun Rua * FC Barcelona rules the world *

Macca and HEWHOMUSTNOTBENAMED. December 31 musings hello and goodbye


And in a stunning bit of news, Vietnam, the team the Azkals beat in the group quarterfinals 2-nil, is inquiring about landing the services of Simon McMenemy.

As for the players who are receiving interest from club football in and out of the region, GO FOR IT. We have no pro league here but a league for weekend warriors. GO FOR IT.

I was reading the TRO filed by HEWHOMUSTNOTBENAMED at the Pasig City RTC and I picked out these three passages that bear much scrutiny with raised eyebrows with the cursory cuss word. The sections in bold are as they are. They are not my typos or what. That’s exactly what it is.

HWMNBN: “To represent the PFF without authority, especially that the PFF President is entitled to vote and may be voted upon as officials of the AFC nevertheless will create havoc to the internal business of the PFF and the AFC and will also bring the Philippines as a whole to mockery for sending to Qatar a bogus president.”

Rick: So I guess a president who has no vote of confidence from his federations is not bogus. And the falsified public documents, misuse of PFF funds, illegal appointments and unexplained expenses I guess do not constitute creating havoc to the internal business of the PFF. I wonder why he was borrowing money from Dan Palami in order to pay the employees’ salaries.

HWMNBN: “The matter is of extreme urgency considering that the respondent will now be leaving for Doha Qatar on January 3, 2011 to attend the 24th Congress 2011 and that petitioner will suffer great and irreparable injury because of the foregoing and that there is no other legal administrative remedy that was available of.”

Rick: Why is Doha so important that the AFC President is asking for a stay of decisions that he equates to interfering with AFC business? So a vote is more important than the welfare of a federation and never mind that FIFA funds were misused, statutes violated and one blunder after another has been committed? I think the AFC President’s letter to the FIFA president betrays some monkey business (THAT HEWHOMUSTNOTBENAMED MENTIONS IN THE NEXT SECTION) going on in the AFC elections.

HWMNBN: “Nevertheless the AFC as the one that will hold its congress, recognizes me as the only legitimate President of the PFF which is now impossible however because I can not perform my functions, duties, and powers and can not attend the said AFC Congress because my office was illegally took over by Araneta. He also brought with his own staff and doing monkey business inside my office. My personal and official files were had destroyed or have now been tampered, to the PFF prejudice and my irreparable injuries.”

Rick: As I understand, the official PFF email’s password was changed by HEWHOMUSTNOTBENAMED. And that he carted home stuff from the office that he deemed was his within days after his ouster. Mr. BLIND AFC PRESIDENT, in case you have not noticed, HEWHOMUSTNOTBENAMED has not provided one shred of physical evidence only WORDS. So it’s his word against all the physical evidence? In case you do not know, HEWHOMUSTNOTBENAMED even denied that it was his voice in the Board of Governors meeting where he admitted to the falsification of public documents. Why is his removal deemed to be interference? Because he is voting for a certain person in the coming elections and to do so has been sweetened by greenbacks? What is obvious here is that the state of the game is not important but that people of questionable backgrounds are put in positions of power. If you read my piece on the PSSI (Patriot Games), how can someone who served a jail sentence run the national federation? Look at another traditional Southeast Asian powerhouse. Since their head took over they’ve won zilch.

Lest anyone forget… the issues here are falsification of public documents where HEWHOMUSTNOTBENAMED already admitted to coming up with a bogus minutes of the meeting where he added one Henry Tsai as Executive Director without Board approval. Then he transferred funds to Tsai’s account “for safekeeping.” And the FIFA funds were misused and have not gone where they should go to.

Philippine football: Our Home Team comes to fore

The other day, I asked some Bleachers’ Brew readers to share their thoughts and stories about the national team and the state of football in our country. And to the best entries, I am giving away some official 2010 Suzuki Cup programmes with copies of the starting lineups of our matches from the quarters to the semis. Mike Belza was our first winner. Our second is Ryan Fenix who I met during the send-off at UMAK. Well done, bud. See ya in the UAAP games and congrats.

Our HOME team comes to fore.
By Ryan Fenix

I could never fully fathom why people proudly wear kits of other countries.

Club colors, yes. Koreans play for Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, so I can buy that.

But to see a fair-skinned (clearly Filipino-Chinese) fella wearing the canary yellow of Brazil, or a very clearly Asian looking guy wearing Ghana’s colors?

Yep, I’m guilty on both counts.

Of course our country has a football team. Every country on this planet has to have a football team. To not have one should be considered one of the seven deadly sins.

Problem is, do we even know we have a National Team? Do they even exist? Hardly ever news comes out anyway. Does anyone care at all, save for a select few?

After the 1-13 thrashing we got from Indonesia a few years back, and countless humiliations before that…., the answer has to be NO. Mercifully, we were spared from further punishment by our non-qualification for the 2008 Suzuki Cup. One really has to be a masochist of unimaginable degree to be caught wearing the Philippines colors on your back.

Cue the 2010 Suzuki Cup, and said mongrels rise to prominence. For football loving fans like me, it is a godsend. It is like rain after 4 months of El Nino.

The attention is nothing short of miraculous, given our very masochistic penchant for basketball.

But the results, thankfully, are not in any way miraculous. It is a product of a selfless benefactor, half Pinoys willing to join the project, and full blooded Pinoys willing to work with them. It may seem good now, but you can only imagine how the situation was when it started.

No one cared. Not the general media, certainly not the general public. Fil-foreign players wondered what the heck they got themselves into. Local footballers knew, of course. But they themselves hoped for the best and expected the worst.

In this environment, our Azkals thrived to qualify for the 2010 Suzuki Cup, and booked a place to the semis.

There is this very distinct fear of mine, that this is all a mirage. A one-off. A fluke. And I am not talking just of the results. My fear is that once results do not go our way, attention to the Azkals would fall by the wayside.

I sincerely hope not. I am doing my best to help promote football, and judging from social network feeds, so are a lot of others. We all love winners, but my thinking is, we have to love football, win or lose. We have to love football even if the next generation Azkals look more like Ronaldinho than Younghusband. To do this, we have to start introducing the game, earlier and to more places.

I have been lucky enough to watch the last two World Cups live, and all I can say, the wave of patriotism is certainly something we could certainly use. The coming together of one nation is so majestic that it gives me goose bumps every time I remember it. In Africa, and certainly in Europe, people live, eat and breathe football. It would be a stretch to say the same here in the Philippines, but the two legs of the Azkals semis was certainly a start. Here’s calling to the mainstream media not to drop coverage once some results do not go our way.

I could name all the German, Brazilian and England team’s starting 11 plus their bench players and their coaching staff, but do I know anyone from our own Philippine team? Two months ago, I did not.

Now I do.

Did I jump into the football bandwagon? No, been cheering on the beautiful game for a good 8 years now.

Did I jump into the Azkals Bandwagon?

Absolutely. And I have absolutely no intention of jumping ship.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

German to coach Azkals?

This story appears in the Friday December 31, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror.

German to coach Azkals?
by rick olivares

The Deutscher Futball-Bund, governing body of German football has sounded off to help the Philippine National Men’s Football Team and team manager Dan Stephen Palami will be flying over for a two-day meet this January for exploratory talks.

Aside from meeting with the DFB, Palami will be meeting with Fil-Germans Manuel Ott, Mark Drinkuth, Stephan Schrock, Will Gueridon (Itzehoe), and Patrick Reichelt (Energie Cottbus) to possibly suit up for the Azkals AFC Challenge Cup campaign that kicks off this coming February 9 in Bacolod City in a home and away series with Mongolia.

The word is that the DFB has also offered to the national team the services of head coach Hans Michael Weiss, the current U-17 coach of Rwanda as well as the technical director of the Rwanda Football Association. Weiss, the 45-year old native of Dannenfels, Germany has also worked with the Chinese Football Association, and the Kyoto Purple Sanga of the Japan Football League among many others. Weiss has also served an internship with Spanish giants Real Madrid, English football club Arsenal, Argentina’s River Plate, and the Bundesliga’s FC Kaiserslautern.

FIFA, AFC lawyers investigate PFF row

FIFA, AFC lawyers investigate PFF row
by rick olivares

With the row regarding the Philippine Football Federation leadership reaching a fever pitch, Fabienne Moser-Frei, FIFA Head of Corporate Counsel, and My Dung Nguyen, AFC Legal Director, flew into Manila last December 29 to conduct an overnight fact finding mission on the problem that has led to a testy exchange of facsimile letters between FIFA President Joseph Blatter and AFC President Mohammad Bin-Hammam.

“We’re here hear all sides,” said Moser-Frei in her only statement to BUSINESS MIRROR. “Then we’ll make a report.”

According to PFF Secretary General Ramon F. Manuel, the two lawyers were only informed the day before about their quick mission on the day of their departure.

As soon as the legal counsels arrived, they went to the PFF House of Football in Barangay Oranbo, Pasig City to conduct interviews with available board members, to verify documents, and to watch the video of the 7th PFF Ordinary Congress last November 27, 2010 where Jose Mari Martinez was removed and replaced as president following allegations into the falsification of public documents and the misuse of funds coming from the FIFA Financial Assistance Plan.

PFF Chairman Emeritus Johnny Romualdez, who just arrived from Jakarta following a meeting of the Asean Football Federation before the final match of the 2010 Suzuki Cup between Indonesia and Malaysia that the latter won, said, “These proceedings are meant to comply with an agreement between Hammam and Blatter that were discussed in Abu Dhabi a few weeks after the ouster of Martinez.

Atty. Edwin Gastanes, Acting Legal Counsel for PFF Interim President Mariano V. Araneta and a member of the Advisory Council of the PFF said the football lawyers “were here to verify the accuracy of what happened.”

“They tried to talk to as many board members and participants of the congress in the short span of time they were given. They heard all sides including that of Martinez. They were quite tight-lipped about what they will do next but I believe that they will come up with their recommendations and findings before the AFC elections in Qatar this January.”

Attorneys Moser-Frei and Nguyen were surprised to find out that Martinez filed a temporary restraining order on Araneta and Manuel “to cease and desist from acting and representing the Philippine Football Federation particularly in attending the 24th AFC Congress 2011 in Doha, Qatar and to vacate the designated office.” The TRO was filed at the Regional Trial Court in Pasig City last December 28, 2010 by Atty. Ciriaco S. Calalang, Martinez’ Counsel.

The TRO is a violation of FIFA statutes on “Arbitration” where “disputes between FIFA, members, confederations, leagues, clubs, players, officials, and licensed match agents and players’ agents” must be taken up with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) located in Lausanne, Switzerland. Article 62 specifically states, “Recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations.”

“Hopefully we will see an tidy end to this unfortunate business,” said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Monico Puentevella who also attended the proceedings.

Philippine Football: A comeback after a century

Philippine Football: A comeback after a century by Mike Belza
I have been a football enthusiast even before but only had my eyes on Philippine Football after the victorious run of the Homeless Team in Brazil last September winning the Homeless World Cup: Host Cup and the recent rise of Azklas in the ASEAN football community with the 1st semis for the AFF Suzuki Cup.

When the HWC Team arrived and hosted a homecoming and victory party in the Jeepney Headquarters in Valley Golf, Cainta, I definitely wanted to be there. Seeing and feeling their happiness with their win in Brazil over a powerhouse Norway was priceless. The eight-man squad is definitely the start of what we are capable of in football.

There are a lot of “good” homegrown talents here but with the right program and experience, these talents can be “better”. In fact, if you have been to Barotac Football Fiesta, you know what I mean. Most of these kids play without shoes and shin guards to protect them. But it was never a hindrance for them to love the sport. With this being said, the notion that football or soccer (for many) is not a sport for those on Class A and B only. I have seen these kids play more than once and they are undeniably as talented as the kids in Spain and Brazil. 

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF), as a governing body for the sport should re-introduce the sport in all schools here in the Philippines, may be it private or public (well, especially the public schools). When I was in college, we never had football as part of our PE curriculum considering we have a spacious ground for the sport. There are already a number of football clinics every summer but a few are interested because they are not familiar with the sport. I bet if you asked who Paulino Alcantara or Pele or Maradona is most wouldn’t have any clue. Educating them with the sport will bring about a huge difference on what we currently have now. The “fad” that we have now still isn’t enough for everyone to know how beautiful the game is. We need some education and later on use that to play the sport. I’ll bet that most of the Filipinos who are into Azkals really don’t understand the sport but they are just cheering for them because of the good looks of our players (true). But that is a good start. Later on we will start “googling” facts and learn more about the sport. On how the game is being played, rules and terms such as offside, penalty kick, free kick, throw in and etcetera.

The Philippine National Football Team gave our nation pride and respect both at the same time. Pride for their outstanding run on AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying for the first time in the semis (and almost to the finals if we had a home stadia) and respect from the football community around the globe. For a short period of time, they became an international sensation and never before in the 21st century that football became more popular than basketball here in the Philippines. In the early 20th century, our Azkals dominated the region with their glorious run on the late Far East Games. If you do the math, it took football almost a century to regain its glory here in the Philippines. That’s not good for the sport when all other nations around the world are advancing and taking it all to another level. But was it a good comeback? Yes and no I’d say. Yes. People are starting to appreciate the sport. Many private companies and organization are “riding the waves” as they see that this is a good marketing strategy, perhaps. Lastly, it’s a very good publicity. Everyone knows about Azkals, thanks to Philippine and international media and oh let’s not forget the internet and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. On the other hand, No. That comeback after a century shows how bad we are in sports development in general. It showed in the recent supposed to be home and away semis when the AFF committee denied our petition to have a “home” game, the reason of which was we don’t have any stadia with international standards. How can we develop homegrown talents when we don’t have the capacity and equipment?

I read somewhere (which I cannot remember anymore, my apologies) from a spokesperson of Ghana on Youth and Sports Development that for a country to regain its image in sports, particularly football or soccer, the authorities have to define their objectives clearly and prosecute them conclusively enough through concerted efforts. He also added that if the problems are not tackled vigorously, the aim of winning a cup would be a mirage and participation in a World Cup would remain a dream.

Now, that’s something to think about.

 The author (left) with the HWC's Lexter Maravilla. 

Thanks for sending this Mike! Will save you a copy of the official 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup programme and the starting lineups from all the Azkals' matches. Drop me an email on how you want to get them. Thanks again and Happy New Year!
                 - Rick

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Philippine Men's National Team Diary Part 3: Patriot Games

Photo taken from a mobile phone above is an Indonesian fan being harassed by Malaysian police and PSSI officials for unfurling a banner that called for the ouster of Nurdin Halid. The person who took the pic sent this to me last night. This article appears in the Thursday December 30, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror. Boy, have they got a surprise for Nurdin tonight at the final match of the 2010 Suzuki Cup Finals.

Patriot Games
by rick olivares

As the Philippine Men’s National Football Team entered the Sultan Hotel the Jakarta after a late afternoon practice on December 15, there was a crowd of autograph and picture seekers waiting for them at the lobby. After a few minutes of obliging the fans, the team made its way to its quarters at the Lagoon Tower of the five star hotel.

On their way to the tower, they passed by a lounge area near the lobby where there were more people either sipping coffee, smoking, or lounging about watching the world pass them by. There was one person sitting on a sofa beside a hotel billboard that was promoting a coming event.

It was Jose Mari Martinez, former or current Philippine Football Federation president depending on which side of the spectrum one belonged to. The Azkals for years have feuded with Martinez. It got to the point where former national coach Desmond Bulpin resigned out of disgust with the Suzuki Cup qualifiers in Laos a few months away.

Now here in Jakarta, the Filipinos further angered by Martinez’ statements to Quinito Henson of the Philippine Star about disbanding the team after the tournament, ignored him as he stood nearby for attention.

As the players passed him, some with looks of disgust on their face, Martinez reached out and grabbed midfielder Jason de Jong for a talk. The Fil-Dutchman would later avoid Martinez for any further talks.

Said Martinez, “They are being very disrespectful. What they do not know is I have done so much for them. I just don’t announce it to the media.”

Later that evening, Mariano V. Araneta, who replaced Martinez as interim PFF President, invited his predecessor to join the team for dinner. Martinez declined.

The national teams of the Philippines and Indonesia have more in common than at first glance. For years, despite the talent within, the teams have floundered and even underachieved. The problems of the national squads are but a miniscule glimpse into the troubles of their respective football federations.

Years of stagnation of the local football scene, the failure of programs, and allegations of corruption have plagued both the PFF and the Persatuan Sepakbola Seluruh Indonesia (or PSSI as the Football Association of Indonesia is called in the vernacular). After years on infighting, the Philippines was able to remove and replace the unpopular Jose Mari Martinez in a Congress last November although he is still clinging on the belief that he is the rightful leader of Philippine football. He has claimed to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sports.

As for PSSI Chairman Nurdin Halid, who like Martinez is an ally of the Asian Football Confederation’s Mohammad Bin-Hammam, he is still stubbornly clinging on to office even if the national government has called for reviews and submitted to FIFA.

At a congress last February suggested no less by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and former national players, included in the agenda about reform as a motion to remove Nurdin.

Halid was implicated in several corruption scandals and served time in 2007. Yet from his jail cell, he continued to run the PSSI which a clear violation of FIFA statutes that disbar any official with criminal records from holding office. In a move that is similar to Martinez’ illegal appointment of Henry Tsai (who had PFF funds transferred to his personal account “”for safekeeping” to use the former president’s words), Nurdin’s Vice President is Nirwan Bakrie, the younger brother of a controversial figure in Aburizal Bakrie.

With the support from PSSI officials, Nurdin continued. The opposition failed to muster the numbers in the February congress and the incumbent survived the putsch.

The widespread dissatisfaction and opposition remains. During the first match between of the 2010 Suzuki Cup finals in Kuala Lumpur last December 26, Indonesian fans unfurled a banner demanding Nurdin’s ouster. As one Merah Putih fan described the incident to BUSINESSMIRROR, “Andi Darussalam, the national team manager, warned the journalists to not take a picture of the banner. A couple minutes after that, Malaysian cops came to our sector with another member of the PSSI executive committee and he forced the fan to put away the banner. Before that, he wanted the cops to arrest the fan but the crowd prevented it so he just took off the shirt and gave it to the police. For our home match, Indonesian police made an official statement that all banners will be inspected and those with statements about Nurdin will be confiscated.”

“We are also monitoring what is going on with the PFF,” summed up the fan.

Before the Philippines’ match with Vietnam during the group stages, the Azkals planned on writing a statement on their undershirts that they would flash to the cameras and the crowd should they score a goal. The other option was for Filipino fans in the stands to raise banners with messages. But after consultations with team and FIFA officials, it was decided that the team would keep the game politics free. But that didn’t stop them from making a statement that they would read to the media upon their return to the Philippines. “We want to set the record straight,” said skipper Aly Borromeo.

photo (top) from The Jakarta Post. photo (below) from some creative Indonesian fan.

The power of an NBA title compels you!

I sort of liked the Miami Heat. That is until this bunch decided to take their talents to South Beach. While I'm not rooting for them and I still think that LeBron James -- win or lose -- is an ass, they sure can play the game. They are 9-1 in their last 10 matches and look to be hitting their stride. See? I got that right too. I said that they'll be okay after they have played their first 20 games. But who would have thought that the San Antonio Sterns would have only four losses and the Boston Celtics five? Play's picking up but I totally like this shot of LeBron skying for a slam with Dywane Wade scooting away after the alley-oop pass with the helpless Milwaukee Bucks looking on. To the Associated Press' Morry Gash -- wonderful shot, dude! I'm thinking of the Pixies' "Levitate Me'.

Wednesday musings

My article on the Azkals came out in the December 25, 2010 issue of the Philippines Free Press (Hubert Webb is on the cover). In the issue before that (with PNoy on the cover, there was a letter to the editor regarding my story on Manny Pacquiao's destruction of Antonio Margarito. My dad has those issues of the Free Press with the 1950s Ateneo Blue Eagles on the cover and reading those old copies was my introduction to this magazine. I began contributing stories on Manny Pacquiao's fights to the mag the other year. Since then, I've also submitted pieces on bands, global warming, and on national politics to the mag. When I began contributing to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (feature writing) after college, I did so to earn extra pay while working as a copywriter in an ad agency. It was only when I returned in 2006 that I began to write professionally having written for FHM, Maxim, Men's Health, Homestyle, Tower Sports NBA, and a bunch of others. I'll be chipping in stuff in UNO Mag next year. As you can see, it isn't just sports. I once did a couple of investigative pieces for a former senator and some research for a well-known columnist of a top broadsheet (who I will not mention). Regarding the letter in Free Press, it's always nice to get feedback (whether they liked it or not) because it helps me in my craft.

In the picture below, it's me trying to get my damn dog interested in college hoops. obviously, she wasn't interested. Bwahahaha. Have my copies of the championship issue of Rebound. It should be in the stores this January. I totally enjoy writing for this mag not just because I helped start it with some really good friends but also because seeing how we are evolving as a publication. I'd say that this is our best to date. Great stuff here (shameless plug). Looking forward to our Year Three.

Took a screen shot of Arsenal midfielder Francesc Fabregas' twitter account where he mentioned the Suzuki Cup finals. Indonesian left winger Oktovanius Maniani also retweeted one of my tweets. Cool, ain't it?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dig deep, Indonesia. The cost of victory and watching the 2010 Suzuki Cup Finals

Dig deep, Indonesia.

The Indonesian National Football Team will have to score four more goals than Malaysia if they want to win their first Suzuki Cup ever. It seems such a difficult task but who knows what can happen? However, it won’t be only the Merah Putih who will be digging deep.

Fans have to delve deeper into their wallets to watch the final match of the 2010 Suzuki Cup at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on December 29.

Here are the ticket prices:
VVIP ticket IDR 1 million (PhP 4,877)
West side VIP ticket IDR 500,000 
(PhP 2,438)
East side VIP ticket IDR 350,000
 (PhP 1,707)
Class I IDR 200,000
 (PhP 975)
Class II IDR 150,000 
(PhP 732)
Class III IDR 50,000 (Php 244)

My Top 10 Sports stories of the Year

My Top 10 Sports stories of the Year
(Events that I covered)

  1. The 2010 Suzuki Cup – I firs began to cover the national football team in 2006 but I have been on and off since then. Last November, in a story unto itself, I was named the media officer for the squad and it was like a dream come true. I had a good vibe about this tournament and would tell a few players and the coaches about it no end. Even before the Vietnam match, I remember telling Dan Palami and Simon McMenemy that we were going to shock the world. Coach said, “You’ve got that much belief?” Well, you’ve seen my accounts and recaps. One hell of a story, right?

  1. Ateneo Blue Eagles win three-peat – I’ve been embedded with my home team since 2005 and have seen the ups and downs. Sure was fun proving all the naysayers wrong. Got the final four cast right and was the only writer/analyst in the country who got that right. As for the finals result? OBF!

  1. NBA Asia Challenge – The stars aligned for the second staging of this event. What made it work was getting media friendly NBA legends instead of ones who were tasked to go to Manila like a few in the first time it was held. The format of mixing the American contingent with the local PBA players was a stroke of genius. And the night was made more special when the Triggerman evoked memories of old.

  1. Ironman Triathlon – This would have rated higher except that I was somewhat disconnected with the competitors who I only saw at the start and the end. There was no access once the race proper began (and maybe rightfully so). Maybe because it was my first time and I wasn’t sure how to go about it. But hobnobbing with the pros before the competition was the icing on the cake. It still is a fascinating race. Next year, I’ll know how to pace myself better and adjust to the triathlon.

  1. PFF 7th Ordinary Congress – I’ve been writing about the Philippine Football Federation through two presidents (Johnny Romualdez and Mari Martinez). There’s been good and bad and after “the Bribe” I got off the board. This year, I couldn’t avoid the shit that was going on. When I found a bunch of paperwork and audio recordings in the mail then I knew I was in. To see the removal and replacement of Martinez was something I will not forget. The video I took doesn’t do the incident justice. You had to be there.

  1. World Series trophy in Hong Kong – Before the past Major League Baseball season began, the New York Yankees brass took their 27th World Series trophy on a tour of Asia to meet the fans. I’ve seen hundreds of games and watched a World Series but have never come close to the trophy. And I got to interview the Yankee brass. I’ve been to the old Yankee Stadium, Monument Park, the clubhouse, met a bunch of players and now I’ve touched the trophy and had my pic taken next to it. Fan boy dream come true.

  1. Brian Viloria vs Carlos Tamara – this was under the radar since it’s no Manny Pacquiao fight. I’ve covered Brian and while working at Solar Sports was sort of a yayo during his first time in Manila. I’ve seen him win and lose. I’ve been in Nonito Donaire’s corner for a fight and that was something else. But this one by Brian as he ran out of gas and lost was memorable for many things. There was trainer Robert Garcia (who also trained Antonio Margarito for his fight with Pacman) in his corner pleading for Brian to dig in deep. There was his fiancée squirming in her seat as the erstwhile champ was dead on his legs. And there was the Cuneta Astrodome crowd trying to cheer and will him on to victory. Brian lost and has since come back to win again but that was a highly memorable fight.

  1. Season 72 UAAP Football Tournament – The UP Maroons were the favorite but they had all sorts of problems that led them to fall close to the bottom. UST and FEU squared off and though the former was tabbed to win it, the Tamaraws took them in two straight in the finals. It was a great football tournament complete with on and off field drama.

  1. UAAP Cheerdance Competition – I always watched the cheerdance competition on television and this was the first time I actually was at the Big Dome for the event. Great performances and what an electric crowd.

  1.  The Great Lapu Lapu Run – I both ran and covered the event. Madness, I tell you. It’s hard to run even at close to a leisurely pace when you’re carrying a SLR, digicam and videocam. It was my first and only for the year and I hope to join more next year. This time as a participant.

Honorable mention:
-       BJ Armstrong in Manila
-       Erik Spoletsra in Manila
-       NCAA Season 86
-       PBA Season 36 Philippine Cup

Monday, December 27, 2010

La Furia Roja in my Christmas stockings.

Here's Spain's new 2011 World Cup champions jersey. I picked up mine in Jakarta. Loving it next to my kit of Cesc Fabregas. It's got the gold star and the World Cup trophy badge. Yeah!

Garuda on my chest

L-R: Firman Utina, Bambang Pamungkas & Muhammad Roby.
This appears in the Tuesday December 28, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror.

Garuda on my chest.
by rick olivares

“Garuda, di dadaku. Garuda kebanggaanku. Kuyakin, hari ini pasti menang!”

To wear the national colors is an honor they say. But for the Merah Putih, it isn’t only a source of pride. There’s so much more riding on their shoulders.

Timnas (Tim Nasional) is the symbol of hope in a country of 235 million people. In a few short weeks, they have united the country (even those who have jumped on the bandwagon) that has been routinely torn apart by political struggles and daily battles with corruption. Now does that sound familiar, Philippines?

Indonesia is a former Dutch colony yet they fancy themselves as the English Premier League of Southeast Asia. The national team, prior to the 2010 Suzuki Cup, has been viewed as a bunch of underachieving primadonnas. But on the cusp of its first international trophy since 1991, they have been given some latitude in terms of their attitude. The players have bought into Alfred Riedl’s system. But for how long more so now that they lost the first leg to a suddenly sharp Malaysian team 3-nil.

There has been much debate on whether the strategy of the Persatuan Sepakbola Seluruh Indonesia (or PSSI the Football Association of Indonesia) of naturalization of Cristian Gonzales, an Uruguayan national, and Dutchman in Irfan Bachdim. Does their inclusion mean that the local talents aren’t good enough that they need to beef up their roster with a pair of recruits not to mention having two Austrians on their coaching staff? And there are at least five more Indonesian-Dutchmen ready to wear the red and white at anytime.

The PSSI has seen the success of its former European colonizer, the Netherlands, in the last World Cup where Bert Van Marwijk’s squad had three players of mixed race in Ibrahim Afellay (who is half Morocaan and plays the midfield for FC Barcelona), Gregory Van Der Weil (the Ajax Amsterdam defender whose family hails from Curacao that is off Venezulean), and Hedwiges Martinez-Maduro (the Valencia defender whose father is from Aruba). Like Spain, the Dutch finally cracked the finals. The two countries have for decades produced some of the best footballing talent but when playing for flag and country, they never went anywhere that is until the last two years when Spain became European and World champions.

The triumph of Spain is because of their grassroots development and the style of one-touch passing with tight triangles formed in each attack that leads to possession and support. But their current set up is a powder keg with several key players of Catalan origin.

With the Catalan region making noises after South Africa that it would still pursue independence from Spain the national team is possibly on the brink of disarray.

PSSI may also want to take a close look at what is going on with France who were also World Cup (1998) and European champions (2000). The Les Bleus U-19 team are the European champions yet the grassroots development has seen a different generation of players who ultimately shamed France in the World Cup in South Africa.

Alain Finkielkraut, a French essayist and professor at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, has been controversial for his brutally frank comments about the state of French football. It was he who described the 2006 edition of Les Bleus as “black, black, and black.” It was a departure from the “black, blanc, and beur” (black, white, and Arab) description that was hung on the 1998 World Cup champions who were a perfect example of the country’s multiracial image.

After the fallout of the 2010 World Cup, Finkielkraut said that France had morphed “from the Zidane generation to the scum generation.” Those words ignited a firestorm of controversy and it once more put the essayist on the defensive who claimed that he was referring to the “me-first” attitude of a the new immigrant population.

Naturalization, an offshoot of globalization, is here to stay. It is hard to claim that one country is pure in its aims or even in its football team. Malaysia itself is a hodge podge of ethnic lines and cultures.

For Indonesia, the Suzuki Cup and their dreams of an international football trophy, are down to one game. There is concern about those jumping off the bandwagon after seeing the Merah Putih winning all five home matches en route to the finals. There has been widespread concern that naturalization is a set back for the PSSI and a detriment to the homegrown program.

The answers to that are long and are even theoretical. Let politics and policy take a backseat for now.

Suffice to say for Garuda is that when someone puts on that red and white, no matter where they are from, the task at hand is to support the squad whether there is a naturalized player or a player of mixed-lineage on the squad.

“Garuda, di dadaku. Garuda kebanggaanku. Kuyakin, hari ini pasti menang!”

Translated, that means, “Garuda, on my chest. Garuda, my pride. I believe you will win today.”


For my Indonesian friends Aditya and Val. I've been telling Aditya that I have been a fan of Irfan and Bambang especially the latter. What a footballer! Aditya I met during Liverpool's friendly with Singapore and Val, we became friends while covering Smart Gilas in Jakarta several years ago.

By the way, "Garuda" is a mystical bird in Hindu lore. It is also the symbol not just of the country but Timnas. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Much ado about a laser (at the 2010 Suzuki Cup Finals)

This is a shot of the offending laser (thanks bbcommunity) that was directed at Indonesian goalkeeper Markus Rihihina. Yes, it was totally wrong but I don't believe that it was that laser that beat the Merah Putih. Malaysia just played their hearts out and with a lot of pride. They obviously had to answer a lot of questions whether they could compete with Indonesia especially after that 5-1 drubbing at the Gelora Bung Karno to open the Group A quarterfinals. Simply put, Malaysia got the job done with one superb attack after another. If anything, they illustrated for all that one does not give up on the ball until it's out of play. Good job, Tigers.  

In case you don't know, Neil Etheridge had lasers also on him in Vietnam (against Vietnam) and in Indonesia. Simon McMenemy complained about it too but we went out and played the game.

But you gotta love this 2010 Suzuki Cup. In years past, I would watch it but never all throughout. It isn't solely the Philippines' performance but all the games have been great. 

FIFA rebuffs Martinez' protest

This appears in the Monday December 27, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror.

FIFA rebuffs Martinez’ protest
by rick olivares

The Mari Martinez saga with the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) refuses to die down.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), in a December 20 memorandum issued by its Secretary General Jerome Valcke, pronounced Mariano V. Araneta as the duly elected president of the PFF after a careful review of the documents furnished to football’s international governing body.

Martinez, angered by the statement, sought the help of Asian Football Confederation President Mohammad Bin-Hammam to contest the ruling to FIFA while threatening to bring the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). The CAS is an arbitration body based in Switzerland that is set up to settle disputes in the realm of sports.

Valcke’s memorandum superseded the one issued by his deputy Markus Kattner on December 3 where FIFA said that they would continue to recognize Martinez but called on a special Congress within 90 days to specifically take up his ouster. Kattner was acting on the information provided by Martinez.

Within days of Kattner’s memo, the new administration of the PFF as headed by Araneta, sent the complete documents including the video of the 7th PFF Ordinary Congress where Martinez was removed and replaced on November 27.

Hammam, who has been at the helm of the AFC since 2002, sent a letter to FIFA dated December 22 stating that FIFA’s ruling is a form of interference in the upcoming AFC elections this January where members will be elected to FIFA’s Executive Committee. Martinez is reportedly a Hammam supporter and his vote is deemed crucial to the Qatari’s spot in the Executive Committee.

The FIFA Executive Committee, next to the association president is the most powerful group in football as it is they who pass the laws that govern the sport.

Football insiders claim that the AFC is split with one block belong to Hammam and the other to Korean Dr. Chung Mong Joon.

This time, it took no less than FIFA president Joseph Blatter to reply to Hammam a day after the AFC president sent his letter.

“It is important to emphasize that FIFA as a world governing body of football has the duty to control every type of Association Football by taking the appropriate steps to prevent infringements of the Statutes, regulations, or decisions of FIFA,” wrote Blatter.

“Regarding the Congress held by the PFF on 27 November 2010, FIFA was informed about some possible irregularities regarding the replacement of the PFF President. In view of the fact that the situation was not clear whether the proposal of removing the President has been put properly on the agenda, FIFA was not in a position to acknowledge the change of presidency. This situation was outlined in FIFA’s letter dated 3 December 2010 to PFF.”

“However, once the facts were available to FIFA, the Chairman of the FIFA Association Committee was asked to give an opinion on the validity of the decision of the PFF Congress to remove and replace the president.”

“After a thorough analysis of the file in his possession, the Chairman of the FIFA Association Committee opined that the decision of the PFF Congress to remove and replace the PFF President was in accordance to the PFF statutes. This was communicated to the PFF with letter dated 20 December 2010.”

To further underscore FIFA’s decision and recognition of Araneta, the interim president’s name was officially placed in the association’s website on December 26, 2010.