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Martinez ousted as PFF head

MANILA, Philippines –  The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) underwent a change in leadership as Jose Mari Martinez was booted out as president by over a 2/3 vote of 32 provincial associations and Mariano Araneta was elected in his place during the National Congress at the PhilSports Audio-Visual Room in Mandaluyong yesterday.

But Martinez, accompanied by two lawyers, questioned the legal basis of his removal, insisting that Congress could not act on a motion for his ouster unless it was endorsed by the PFF Board of Governors. The speculation was he would go to court and try to hang on to his position despite a vote of 26 affirming his removal with two abstentions and five absensions.

The voting in Congress was witnessed by former PFF presidents Rene Adad and Johnny Romualdez, POC chairman Monico Puentevella and former POC president Cristy Ramos.

The Congress was preceded by a Board of Governors meeting at the PFF building in Pasig in the morning. Martinez refused to recognize the legality of the meeting and did not attend even as secretary-general Chito Manuel confirmed a quorum of 11 of 13 members.

Araneta said the Board was convened to continue the Oct. 29 session where action on certain matters was deferred. Tarlac representative Glenn Carecativo was elected by the Board to preside in Martinez’ place. The Board endorsed a motion to raise the issue of Martinez’ ouster before the Congress. Martinez said the Board meeting was unlawful.

Martinez was previously given an ultimatum to produce about P2.8 million of missing funds from the PFF coffers. When he failed to deliver, the Board decided to endorse his ouster at the Congress.

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Araneta said the PFF will exhaust all means to get back the missing amount from those accountable as confirmed in an external audit report. “We will determine culpability,” he said. “No one will get away with this. We’re doing this for the love of football.”

After Martinez was ousted, the Congress voted Araneta as new president unanimously. “Now, the hard work begins,” said Araneta.

Aside from the change of leadership, the Congress also approved Leyte as a regular member and Sorsogon as a probationary member. The 2010 budget was ratified as the same for next year.

“We hope this ends the dissension in the PFF and we begin working together for the good of football,” said Araneta. “If Mari wants to contest the decision of the Congress, it is his right.”

Romualdez earlier issued a memorandum to the PFF provincial associations, calling for justice to be served. He urged Martinez to return to the PFF unauthorized payments and investments made without Board approval. He threatened Martinez with a legal suit and impeachment if the money was not returned. Romualdez made good his threat to remove Martinez when he couldn’t settle his accountability.

The Congress was initially set at the Legends Hotel but the PFF had to relocate because it still owed over P200,000 to the place and couldn’t pay up. The obligation was incurred in line with the recent PFF hosting of the under-16 ladies tournament which used the Legends Hotel as the host facility. The tournament wound up with a deficit of P2.2 million.

The PFF’s shaky financial condition was traced to poor management, resulting in the removal of Martinez as a signatory in all the organization’s bank accounts. It was estimated that the PFF receives an annual subsidy of over $400,000 from external sources, primarily FIFA, but has been unable to make both ends meet.

Araneta’s election as PFF president will give him the mandate to finish the remaining year in Martinez’ term.

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