The Philippines Football League, Ceres Negros and, to a certain extent, the Philippine Football Federation have been involved in a hot topic in Philippine footballing circles because of Martin Stueble’s comments immediately after the AFC Cup match in Yangon, Myanmar.
With all the other issues happening in the league, like Global’s current financial woes, Martin’s statements came at the worst possible time.
However, it seems the main reason behind the “terrible preparation” rant of Ceres Negros’ defender had stemmed from their PFL fixture last May 12 against Kaya FC which was sandwiched between their make-or-break AFC Cup matches.
Yes, it is a fact that Ceres went on a very taxing grind especially between the May 9, 7:30PM kick-off in Pana-ad against Yangon United and the May 12, 7:00PM PFL fixture against Kaya FC on the same venue before heading out to Yangon, Myanmar for the second leg of the AFC Cup Zonal semis for a 5:00PM kick-off (Manila time).
And with that small turnaround time, Ceres actually requested beforehand to the PFL/LFI for the Kaya match to be rescheduled but given that the move would pile up both clubs’ fixtures on the latter part of the season, the PFL/LFI did not give in to the request. As it transpired, all three games of Ceres did proceed as scheduled with the Kaya match turning out to be Ceres Negros’ first loss of their domestic league campaign.
This particular salvo of crucial matches, though not new and happens also to other leagues abroad, drew the ire of Martin Steuble who happened to be the one to talk to the AFC Cup field staff for the post-match flash interview that produced half a minute of controversy in which his statements pertaining to the unforgiving schedule has already been attributed to the current state of the league.
Why Martin was the one chosen to talk, and why the question about the preparation was asked, even though it did not matter anymore since the game is done and dusted, seemed to have randomly conspired to create a perfect storm.
And a storm did ensue.
Now the backlash from Filipino football fans has already happened and they have become polarised especially after the PFL/LFI gave a statement on the investigation and possible sanctions that can be meted out to Ceres Negros’ player and captain.
The means, place, and avenue (and even the act itself) of Martin Steuble doing the rant definitely was wrong, but it somehow escalated the more pressing issues in the league to the public, albeit in a negative light.
But the damage has been done already, and the way to move forward is to probably work together to solve the problems shrouding the local league.
Alas, because of the current pressing issues in the PFL, Martin Steuble’s statement went out of proportion, as if his statements (originally about Ceres’ hellish fixture for the week) are now becoming a de facto reflection of the status of Philippine football.