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PFF exec: Time to build that relationship with fans

MANILA, Philippines – A football game has since time immemorial always been a communion between the players and coaches and the fans.

And if the Philippine Football Federation has their way, they would love nothing more than to underscore and reignite that relationship between Filipino football fans and the Azkals when they go on this two-game home stand on November 16 (against Vietnam) and November 21(against Indonesia) in the group stages of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“In my opinion, the crowds were not the same from what we saw in 2010-14 because of a mixture of awareness and match results,” opined PFF General Secretary Mikhail “Coco” Torre during an interview with this writer last Sunday, October 29.

“In all of our efforts to build the game, I think on the federation’s side, we forgot to tap into the passion of the fans. This is something that we want to bring back. If we rally the fans behind the national team, we believe it will give them that lift to perform.”

“Not that the national team does not work hard — they always do. But there is nothing like that 12th man giving you that added boost during a home game.”

The PFF has announced that they are hoping to put 10,000 people inside the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium for the games against Vietnam and Indonesia.

“We are sticking our necks out there for the head count and we do not want to fall flat on our faces,” admitted Torre. “But I feel the excitement towards Philippine football again.”

“Going to the Filipinas’ side naman, we had support from the Ayalas with the mall tours and Cignal for the telecast.  When we beat New Zealand, lo and behold, kahit saan ka magpunta, meron live viewing. But more to the women’s game, we see the signs that football is on an upward trajectory.”

One of the first groups that Torre met with was the Ultras Pilipinas. A large crowd of supporters are not only highly visible during games for their cheers and actions in the stands but also their never-say-die attitude, but also their colorful attire. 

“They were the first stakeholders that we met in terms of preparation for the 10K Strong,” said Torre. “They have their own version of the 10K Strong! With a