Ultras Filipinas, Kaholeros cry foul for stadium restrictions at Azkals-Uzbekistan match

Some of the drums that the Ultras Filipinas was supposed
to bring in. From the group's Facebook page
By Ivan Saldajeno and Kevin Estrada

MANILA--One of the well-known supporter group of the Philippine Azkals, the Ultras Filipinas, hit out at PFF for not allowing the group to bring drums to the national team's Tuesday night FIFA World Cup qualifying encounter with Uzbekistan.

In an official statement on Wednesday, the Ultras said, "When [the members of the] Ultras Filipinas were making their way to their seats, [the] PSS security personnel refused to let us bring our drums which we use not to make noise but for our cadence to support the National Team. They cited the Code of Conduct written by PFF."

The organization also claimed that the same security team called the group "hooligans" and allowed some Uzbek fans to bring their own drums to the stadium.

The UF continued, "They also said that they are trying to "avoid a clash" between the home fans and a handful traveling Uzbekistan fans, to the point of using the word "hooliganism", which is both unfair and baseless (no historical data of football violence between fans in the Philippines). It should be noted that the Uzbeks brought their drums to their seats although they did not use it for the duration of the match, an example of classic Filipino colonial mentality and misplaced hospitality."

The Ultras also said some of its members asked for clearance to PFF officials with the help of a journalist, said to be Philippine Daily Inquirer writer and TV5 commentator Cedelf Tupas, but were referred back to the stadium security, who earlier imposed the drum ban and confiscated the percussion instruments.

The Ultras claimed the drum ban was a far cry from the Azkals' last World Cup qualifier at home against Bahrain on June 11.

UF narrated, "Flashback to June 11, 2015. Philippines vs Bahrain, our first home game for the World Cup Qualifier. Ultras Filipinas was allowed to bring in drums, PFF even brought in the UP Pep Squad and the scoreline was 2-1."

The statement concluded, "It sure does boost the morale of the players on the field knowing that there is an organized and ultra fanatical people behind them and supporting them."

As if to say that only the Ultras were the victims, the Kaholeros almost had their "big flag" seized before kickoff by the aforementioned security.

According to a member who asked for anonymity, only a last-minute intervention allowed them to let the flag being unfurled for the kickoff.

The divide between the PFF and the supporters’ groups ignited last year when the controversial code of conduct was implemented during the Peace Cup that banned any kind of musical instrument, drums included, that reduced Rizal Memorial Stadium into a movie house-like atmosphere. The same code was also the reason why the Big Flag did not have its appearance in the white bleacher section of the Rizal Memorial Stadium that time.

The code was relaxed during the AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal against Thailand.