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.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Where is Rufo Sanchez and why is the Best Striker in the Philippines not playing?

Where is Rufo Sanchez 
why is the Best Striker in the Philippines not playing?
by rick olivares pic from rufo sanchez' FB

Did you ever think that Armand Del Rosario would wear another shirt other than Kaya’s?

Realistically, it’s possible. Very few players stay with one club forever. But sometimes, it seems improbable. Almost all his life, Del Rosario has worn the green, black, red, and yellow – no it’s not a desire to have all the colors of the rainbow for a team kit; it is what it is – of Kaya until last season when he joined Loyola for league play.

Was it like Chieffy Caligdong exchanging his beloved Air Force jersey and airplane celebration for a Green Archers United shirt and the archer pose after a goal? Close. But remember, Caligdong played with Union before he joined the military.

Does that apply to Rufo Sanchez? He’s only been in the UFL for a season but what a season it was! The Spanish striker out of Madrid became the most dangerous predator in the UFL taking over the local league’s version of the pichichi award while leading Stallion to a double in only the club’s second year in Division One.

The team that Stallion fielded was a sleeper; one that snuck up on you. And they snuck on opposing teams good with their slick passing game and thunderous finishes. They brought in a Korean contingent from Central Philippines University in Iloilo and a couple of guys who were came out of nowhere but were solid contributors – Diego Barrera, Jeremy Hohn to name a few – to go with the sons of Barotac Nuevo to challenge Global’s stranglehold on club football silverware.

The thing about Stallion was they didn’t look to stop there. They looked like a dynasty in the making. Now the team is scattered across the UFL landscape. Joaco Cañas and Lee Joo Young are now with Loyola. Jovin Bedic is with Kaya. Jake Hugo and Jesse Martindale are with Green Archers United. Kim Hyo Il has left. And the most feared striker in the land? Where is Rufo Sanchez?

Well, he is in limbo following an acrimonious split with Stallion that has dragged on for a few months now and has involved everyone from the UFL to the PFF to the Football Association of Singapore.

After International De Madrid played an exhibition match with a select Philippine side, Azkals Alyansa, in the wake of Typhoon Sendong on January 8, 2012, Stallion inquired about the possibility of loaning Sanchez who impressed the local football club for his deft touch and game intelligence. Unfortunately, Madrid was in the hunt for their division championship and if there was any loan to be made it was after the season.

But Sanchez didn’t come to Manila alone. Joining him in his Philippine adventure was Cañas.

From a Year to Remember...
Stallion flirted with greatness in their first year in Division One in 2011 when with only their Koringo (Korean-Illongos) contingent the defeated the upper echelon UFL squads Air Force, Global, and Loyola. However, opposing teams adjusted to them in the second round of league play and Stallion fell short of a title. Nevertheless, a third place finish in their maiden Division One year was great.

With Sanchez and Cañas in tow, they looked to turn a good and dangerous football team into a surprisingly sound and terrifying team. But the club fell flat on their face in their season debut with a 0-2 loss to Army in the 2012 UFL Cup.

They found their bearings in the next match against then brother team, Sta. Lucia with a 6-0 win. They picked up another 8-0 win against Agila then sent defending UFL champions, Air Force, packing from Cup play with a thorough 5-1 win to a stunned crowd.

Once in the knockout stages, piped a tough Korean-flavored General Trias in a shootout on a muddy and rain-swept University of Makati pitch, 5-4, to advance to the semifinals.

In the final four, the Barotac Nuevo-based club looked fragile as Green Archers United scored first to take a 1-0 lead after 55 minutes. Instead of falling apart, Stallion got its game together. Ruben Doctora Jr. scored the badly needed equalizer late in the match. In the extra period, Lee Won Hyung scored in the 99th minute after which Doctora added his second to seal the win and send Stallion to its first major finals game.

In the finals, it was the upstart Stallion versus powerhouse Global, the class of local club football for three years running. Doctora opened the scoring in the 24th minute but any good cheer was quickly cancelled out by an Izzo El Habbib strike barely a minute later. Stallion finally broke through in the 61st minute when Sanchez scored the marginal goal. They held on for a stirring 2-1 win to claim their first piece of UFL silverware.

Global gained a measure of revenge by handing Stallion their only two losses in league play while the latter defeated practically every club to post a 15-1-2 record. Stallion needed an assist from Kaya that defeated Global, 3-2, (ironically, two of the latter’s losses came against Kaya and they were the most damaging to their title defense along with a 2-0 defeat to Loyola early in the season). 

Sanchez was the league’s top goal scorer by netting 18 (he also scored eight goals in the previous cup), one more than the previous season’s winner, Phil Younghusband. On top of his Golden Boot Award, he also bagged the Golden Ball trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

It was the crowning moment for not only Sanchez but also Stallion. The club had won the coveted double, an achievement that not even powerhouse Global was able to accomplish. Sanchez was not only the team’s best player but also tops in the UFL.

Stallion was young, talented, and still hungry for more. And the question following their record-setting season was, “How do they follow up on this success”?

... to the summer of their discontent
Three months after the league ended, the Stallion squad that had won the coveted UFL double had a different look about them. Many of the mainstays wore different colors. The club’s owners insist that they do not mind losing their players as they only want those who want to play for them. The one player they wanted to keep but seemed aloof… was Sanchez.

The bone of contention was the contract, signed on September 14, 2012, stated in its term: “This covers the period from August 15, 2012 to August 15, 2013 and may be renewed for further one (1) year at the option of The Club.”

July 6
Some three weeks after the UFL season ended, Stallion announces they have loaned Sanchez to Global for their 2013 Singapore Cup quarterfinals series with DPMM.

July 24
Sanchez scores the game winner in stoppage time to give Global a 1-0 win over DPMM in the first leg of their two-match series.

July 27
Global spots DPMM a 4-nil lead with Rufo scoring his second Singapore Cup goal in the 55th minute. Just when it looked like Global was going to the next round running away, DPMM scores four goals in the final 28 minutes of regulation to notch the count at 4-4. But it isn’t enough. Global goes through, 5-4, on aggregate.

July 31
Cedelf Tupas writes in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that Sanchez was studying his options on where he would play the following season. The veteran football scribe notes that for the moment, the Spaniard remains under contract with Stallion.

August 2
In reaction to Tupas’ article, Nierras shoots UFL General Manager Cesar de Larrazabal about entertaining bids for his players.

“So to stop these teams from drooling over our player, we are requesting the help of the UFL. We would like the UFL to inform all the other teams and remind them of our UFL league rules. Specifically the one stating that a player cannot play for any other team unless released by the mother club.”  
“So we would like to request that the UFL management inform all the teams from #2 to #10 that the #1 UFL CUP AND LEAGUE CHAMPION, is entertaining offers for Rufo Sanchez!  We will entertain the highest bidder only! No limits set. IF they want the MVP and Golden boot player, then they should just make and offer. Pls send the offer to me directly and through email. We will only entertain written offers from the club owners, and not agents or representatives. Offers can be made until Aug 7 at 5PM. If we do not get any offers than (sic) Rufo will just fly in and attend our camp in Barotac on Aug 10. These are sealed bids. I will not disclose the winning bidders offer.”

August 3
Stallion sends its first email regarding their option to resign Sanchez for another year with Stallion. As Sanchez is in Spain, Stallion co-owner and legal counsel Jun Robles sends the first email on August 3 and a second on August 10.

(Sanchez claims he never received any of the emails.)

August 6
De Larrazabal sends out a reminder to all the UFL teams “to respect common ethical protocol on contracting of players. This goes beyond rules and regulations and belongs to the realm of common and universal ethics.”

August 10
Sanchez is unveiled as the wild card pick in the Clear Dream Match Draft held at SM Megamall (despite the striker being in Spain).

As soon as it is announced that Sanchez is involved in the Clear Dream Match, Nierras shoots an email letter to the Younghusband Football Academy regarding Stallion players’ participation in the exhibition match. “Pls remove all Stallion FC players from the Dream cup. You guys added another one of my players without even consulting the team owners. This is so disrespectful already. Who gave you the authority to use my players without notifying us for promoting your event. So pls remove Rufo, Junior, and Hector from your event,” wrote Nierras that same day to TYFA.

August 12
Stallion head coach Ernie Nierras writes to Larrazabal complaining about Sanchez’s Tweeting that “he is free to sign with any club” (Nierras’ words).

August 13
Sanchez and Stallion manager Filbert Alquiros chat on Viber. The chat begins at 12:30am and ends at 2:14am. The tone of the chat is rather testy. Rufo says he hasn’t received any offer and that it isn’t about the money. He talks about looking for more challenges. Alquiros says that Stallion is interested in reacquiring his services and to report to training camp on August 16 at Barotac Nuevo. The team manager also says that if he wants to move, then Stallion will shop him around.

“Finished the year and (we’re) all so happy we are champions,” says Rufo in closing the chat. “And now (it’s) every man for himself.”

Sanchez would later claim that he never received any emails and says he hasn’t used that email address in a while. Stallion presents email from Sanchez to team physiologist Cyrill Samson dated September 17 where the striker is asking for pictures from the awarding ceremony for the league title.

August 16
Nierras sends a third email to TYFA about using Stallion players without securing clearance.

August 29
Stallion sends a formal letter to the UFL “advising it of the status of Mr. Sanchez’ contract” and was “seeking its assistance by issuing appropriate sanctions to Mr. Sanchez and directing other clubs to desist from inducing Mr. Sanchez to breach his contract with Stallion FC.”

August 30
Nierras writes Global owner Dan Palami: “All we expect from this Rufo situation is common courtesy. When you asked for the loan, we loaned Rufo. When interest went beyond a month loan, then all we got was silence. Nobody spoke to us from your side.  Now we have a player who is under contract with Stallion FC and attends regular Global FC training. He openly declares he has no contact with us. Local papers wrote about it, and even this Clear dream match became an issue.” 

“Let me know what you want to do? As far as Stallion FC is concerned, we only want players who want to play for us!”

September 4
Global’s website breaks the news that the Spanish striker had signed a contract with them after his contract had expired.

Football scribe Roy Moore also writes in the GMA7 website that “with the UFL Preseason Cup scheduled to kick off this weekend, the league has released some of the squad lists, and heading the big transfer news is the announcement that Rufo Sanchez is officially a Global FC player.”

Moore quotes Global owner Dan Palami as saying that Sanchez was "a free agent after his deal with Stallion expired last month”.

Nierras Tweets: Rufo (Sanchez) is not a free agent and has an existing contract with Stallion.”

“We are in negotiations with Global FC for the services of Rufo Sanchez. Until those negotiations are final, Rufo Sanchez is still a player of Stallion.”

September 6
The UFL sends a memorandum to both Global and Stallion that submit their lineups to the UFL’s pre-season cup with Sanchez listed in their respective lineups. Due to the dispute, the UFL ordered both clubs to refrain from fielding the Spaniard until the matter was settled.

September 12
The UFL’s legal counsel after deliberating on the arguments of both Global and Stallion issues an opinion that the former has the better right to Rufo’s services.

September 14
Global fields Sanchez in a 6-1 win over Union Internacional Manila.

September 16
Stallion holds a press conference through its counsel Diaz Pareno Caringal that presents the facts of the case from Stallion’s side. In their position paper, they detail the original email exchanges with Sanchez when he was still playing for Madrid. They also furnish emails of their intent to renew Sanchez for another year.

The UFL’s Disciplinary Committee convenes and enjoins both teams to submit their position papers on the issue.

September 19
Global’s CEO Cian Palami writes to the UFL on its position paper on the case of Rufo Sanchez (in response to Stallion’s position). Palami identifies two issues, Procedural – on whether Stallion can file a protest on matches where they did not play; and Substantial, where they question the validity of the renewal of Sanchez’ contract renewal and whether he is eligible to play for another club.
Palami points out Stallion’s protests on the matches played by Global has no bearing because of Section 2 of Article 38 of the Pre-season tournament rules where protests can be filed by the team that has taken active participation.
Regarding the substantive issue, Palami zeroes in on one particular stipulation in the contract between Sanchez and Stallion:
“18. NOTICE. Any notice, request, approval or consent under this contract will be sufficiently given if in writing and delivered in person or mailed (registered mail) by one party to the other at the address set forth in this contractor to such other address as the recipient may subsequently have furnished in writing to the sender.”
The contention is also if the electronic mail is covered by the term put forth by Stallion of which Global believes it was not covered.

By paper’s end, Global concludes that there was no existing contract between Sanchez and Stallion hence, their signing him as a free agent.

September 21
Global fields Sanchez in an 11-1 win over Manila all-Japan.

September 23
Global fields Sanchez in a 3-1 win over Loyola.

September 24
Larrazabal sends a letter of sanction to Palami informing his of the UFL Technical Committee’s decision to overturn the results of three pre-season wins where they fielded Sanchez.

October 4
Global fields Sanchez during its Singapore Cup semifinals match versus Tanjong Pagar that resulted in a 2-1 loss.

October 4
The UFL slaps a one-year ban on Sanchez. Karl Decena, in an article for interaktv quotes the UFL’s memorandum to the Spaniard as stating that the ban is due to: “repeated violations and failure to respect and comply with the directive”.
“The UFL Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned you with a ban from all competitions of the UFL for a period of one year with immediate effect”.

Sanchez was given 10 days by the UFL to appeal the ruling of the league’s Disciplinary Committee.

Stallion contends that even before the expiration of his contract, Sanchez was already negotiating with other teams. Nierras provided the UFL with the podcast of an interview Sanchez did with Jose Ramon de la Morena in the show, El Larguero while on vacation in Spain. The interview was conducted July 4.

What follows is an excerpt from transcript and translation (provided by Stallion to the UFL) of the interview:

C1: What is the name of the group you’ll be going to?
Rufo: Global
C1:  Global. And how many years, are you signing?
Rufo: One.
C1: Ah, one. You could go from one to one, right?
Rufo: Yes, but they asked me how many years I wanted and I told them it’s too far from my home and that I prefer one at the moment.
C1: Yes, just in case, right?
Joaco: Could it be for months?
Rufo: Yes (Laughter). At the moment, since it’s quite far…but one year, one year.
C1: And you, Joaco are also there negotiating with another…
Joaco: I have the offer from Stallion for renewal and another that called me up, Kaya, that was another, well, from the top…

(It should be noted that the two Spaniards say that things have been taken out of context in the translation supplied to the UFL).

On the sidelines
After several playdates in the 2013 UFL Cup, Stallion is atop Group C with two wins, one draw, and one loss. They should have finished with three wins but the UFL overturned a win overturned on account of them fielding a sixth foreign player into the match; a no-no under current league rules on foreigners suiting up during matches. The seven goals they have scored in four matches is a stark drop off from the 19 they tallied in last year’s group stages.

Global is atop Group C with an immaculate 3-0 slate. Even without Rufo Sanchez, the club still has a lot of firepower. After all, they are stocked with national players and top-notch foreign reinforcements. They have scored 16 goals and conceded only one; cementing their claim to being the best defensive team for several years running.

Sanchez in the meantime, refuses to talk about the schism between him and Stallion. He has been instructed by his “new club”, Global, to not say anything, and to let them do all the talking.

The word is he is headed back for Spain.

According to the UFL’s Public Relations Officer Jing Jamlang, the UFL will come out with a final decision next week on this whole mess.

And “a mess” is exactly what this whole incident is as it has somewhat taken the luster out of the ongoing cup.


Short interview with Rufo Sanchez about this matter


  1. To educate football fans on FIFA's regulations on Player transfers and contracts, here is the link:

  2. If merong contract then clubs and player should honor it , then UFL should serious in the1 year ban and sanctions or else mauulit lang ang ganito , foreigner footballers will exploit this league . Medjo grey area din yung sa transfers because transfers will inlcude taxes and etc ....

  3. “18. NOTICE. Any notice, request, approval or consent under this contract will be sufficiently given if in writing and delivered in person or mailed (registered mail) by one party to the other at the address set forth in this contractor to such other address as the recipient may subsequently have furnished in writing to the sender.”

    Is this really so hard to understand? If the Stallions did no such thing, then they have no claims. How can the UFL be so stupid for letting this matter go further than it should. Let it rest. A free agent at the expiration of the contract. Simple.

  4. plain and simple yet they made it so complicated and now the cup, we fans, craving for a full pack actions grrrr...let rufo play

  5. delay ang sahod ni rufo sa stallions yung interpreter o yung nagtuturo sa kanya nga hindi pa nababayaran till now