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PFF eyes Sta. Rosa as Azkals new home

MANILA, Philippines - With entities on a deadlock on the terms of the planned construction of an artificial turf at Rizal Memorial Stadium, football officials have started looking elsewhere for the $500,000 endeavor under the Goal Project of the International Football Federation (Fifa).

Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta said a property in Sta. Rosa, Laguna is now being considered to replace the Rizal Memorial, whose administrator, the Philippine Sports Commission couldn’t agree to the provision granting the PFF control of the facility.

“We’re looking at another place, a property in Sta. Rosa. In fact, Domeka Garamendi, Fifa development officer, recently inspected the property and we’re just waiting for his final report to see if it’s feasible or not,” Araneta said.

The PFF and the PSC had earlier signed an agreement for the conversion of Rizal’s natural grass pitch into an all-weather turf using the grant from Fifa. The pact called for a lease covering 25 years during which the PFF should enjoy absolute control. But the government sports body had insisted it should still retain control of the Rizal, so the project was put on hold.

“We have to abide by what the government wants; we wouldn’t want the PSC to be sued by the Ombudsman, if ever. It would probably even be a blessing in disguise because if ever, we’ll have another field, an additional facility for the national team,” said Araneta.

The PFF chief said they would likely build training facilities to complement the future Sta. Rosa turf.

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“If Fifa approves the transfer and the project pushes through, we’ll also build a training center for our national team there,” Araneta said.

As for Rizal, PSC chairman Richie Garcia said in a recent press briefing that they would proceed with the artificial turf project at the 78-year-old stadium without the PFF and Fifa.

“The PSC board has decided to pursue setting up an artificial pitch for the Rizal Stadium (on its own) because we like to retain custody of the facility,” Garcia said.

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