Football: Manila will stage Suzuki Cup after all

Shahril Ishak (left) negotiating his way through the Filipino defenders at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, on Dec 8, 2012.
Shahril Ishak (left) negotiating his way through the Filipino defenders at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, on Dec 8, 2012. PHOTO: ST FILE

MANILA • The Philippines has performed a U-turn and will now co-host this year's AFF Suzuki Cup after resolving a contractual row about the use of the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.

The Philippines had pulled out last month from staging the Nov 19-Dec 17 biennial football tournament for the 11 countries in Southeast Asia after the issue came up, with Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam offering to step in.

But the Asean Football Federation (AFF) approved the Philippines once again as co-host - along with Myanmar - after being given contracts and guarantee letters at a meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, on Saturday.

This came about after the Philippines agreed to move the venue to a sprawling new stadium.

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) had initially offered the ageing Rizal in downtown Manila, but its 15,000 seating capacity fell short of organisers' standards.

On Saturday, it offered the 20,000-seater Philippine Sports Stadium, a brand new venue in the capital's outskirts, and the proposal was approved at the AFF Council meeting.

"We are very glad to receive the support from the AFF Council and now we can move on and work towards hosting a successful AFF Suzuki Cup," PFF general secretary Atty Edwin B. Gastanes said in a statement.

"Both hosts will have a lot of work to do as this is the first time that both countries will be hosting the AFF Suzuki Cup and we have to make sure that we do everything possible."

While the Philippine Sports Stadium will be the primary venue for the Suzuki Cup group stage from Nov 19 to 26, some matches will be played in the smaller venue, he said.

Opened in 2014, the Philippine Sports Stadium is located inside a sprawling entertainment complex run by members of a local Christian sect.

The adjacent Philippine Arena hosted Katy Perry's "Prismatic" tour last year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2016, with the headline 'Manila will stage Suzuki Cup after all'. Print Edition | Subscribe