Cebu News

Cebu City willing to host FIFA Women’s Cup

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu City is set to host another major sports event as the Philippines won the bid to host the inaugural FIFA Futsal Women’s World Cup 2025 in November of next year.

Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President John Anthony Gutierrez revealed that the Cebuanos’ love for the sport served as the number one factor in their host selection.

“I think it’s the healthy football community that we have (and) the trajectory in which our women’s futsal is going up… I think FIFA is always looking at diversity to get football in any form across the world (and) to every nation,” Gutierrez said.

“Yung football community dito napaka-healthy. Kung hindi niyo alam, yung huling U19 National Tournament, ang nag-champion (ay mula sa) Cebu… The Central Visayas Regional Football Association is one of the biggest and best (and) most organized RFA (Regional Football Association) in the country,” he added.

Gutierrez said the country is fortunate to be entrusted by FIFA in hosting the said sporting event after winning the bid among six bidders including Lithuania, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Brazil.

“Napakaswerte natin, mga Pilipino, na nabiyayaan tayo nitong napakalaking proyekto na i-host yung World Cup dito sa Pilipinas,” he said.

Gutierrez said the most-awaited women’s edition was finally granted after women Futsal players around the world clamored to FIFA since the men’s edition was first launched in 1930.

Apart from being the host country, Gutierrez said the Philippines also automatically qualifies as a participant in the event which will be joined by 15 other countries.

Additionally, Gutierrez said that the country has a facility-wise factor based on the successful hosting of the FIBA World Cup 2023.

Gutierrez visited the acting Cebu City Mayor Raymond Garcia yesterday to ask for support, particularly in the search of suitable venues either for the eliminations, quarter-finals, semi-finals, or even the championship games soon.

Garcia said the city is willing to host some of the games, but said that so far it doesn’t have any coliseums or indoor gyms qualified for the event.

He added that the city’s thrust of having big sporting events here is sports tourism.

“This is FIFA, this is the biggest organizer of all the sports in the entire world, mao gud ni silay nagda sa World Cup… So dako kayo ning garbo nga ang sa women’s Futsal na award sa Philippines to host it and mas dako pa g’yung garbo nga gipangita nila ang Cebu City, they will have some games here, semifinals and even finals here in the city of Cebu... So we have to prepare for this if ma-formalize na g’yud ang tanan, we will just be waiting for their letter of intent,” Garcia said.

At the moment any preparation is still premature, but as to readiness Garcia said they can “very much handle” considering the success of the last CVIRAA and hopefully the Palaro.

With the FIFA World Cup having fewer teams than the CVIRAA and the Palaro, Garcia said, they have more time to prepare.

As to where it will be held, Garcia said, they are still looking for a field that will be suitable for the event like that of the Borromeo-Dynamic Herb Complex. Garcia mentioned the said field is in Talisay City, but its business address is actually under Cebu City.

“Niingon man ang FIFA nga they are willing to spend for the football field, all they need is an area which we can identify as the Cebu City government and tan-aw nako if we can find an area at the SRP, kita ang yuta, kita pud ang mubutang sa mga bleachers and grandstand, nya sila nay mubutang sa grass... Mahalon biya ng grass kay that’s an artificial grass… To make one football field, that is about ?25 to ?30 million just on the grass,” said Garcia.

However, Rodney Orale, president of the Central Visayas Regional Football, said the Women’s World Cup needs an indoor venue and not outdoor, but the artificial football field that was discussed with Garcia during Gutierrez’s visit can be used for other events.

Orale said Cebu City’s chance to host the said international event is for the city to build an indoor stadium, or use that of the SM Arena.

However, FIFA is also very strict with branding, saying if SM agrees to take out their name as the name of the arena, then it could be the most fitting venue, although this also still depends on the layout and other specifications required for this event.

Orale said of all venues they inspected earlier together with PFF’s Kevin Goco, none of the facilities in Cebu passed the standards for competition right now, although the Hoopsdome in Lapu-Lapu City and Ateneo de Cebu can pass as practice venues.

If Lapu-Lapu wants to be a venue they will have to clear some permanent structures to come up with the 30x50-meter standard flooring for the playing venue and easement on the side, plus an additional locker room with more shower rooms.

Orale said Toledo City is too far and doesn’t have enough hotels to accommodate the teams.

“Kinahanglang gikan sa mga hotel, kinahanglan ang time travel is pinakadugay, 45 minutes lang,” Orale said.

If Cebu City can make necessary arrangements with SM concerning the arena, then that could be it.

Last year, Mayor Mike Rama and Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, before all the controversies beset them, discussed the possibility of building a huge convertible stadium at the South Road Properties via a joint venture. — Nicholas Jon Malaga, CNU intern

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