FIFA, PFF looking to bring inaugural futsal WWC outside MM

A yearlong gear-up for the FIFA Futsal Women's World Cup has officially begun. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY—The International Football Federation and the Philippine Football Federation plan to bring the first-ever FIFA Futsal Women's World Cup to some cities outside of Metro Manila to introduce futsal to other places in the Philippines.

While football fans in Metro Manila are assured of getting some glimpse of World Cup action, FIFA director for tournaments Jaime Yarza said that at least one group stage will happen outside of the capital province.

"The number of venues is still under discussion. There are various considerations to take care of that. Definitely, there will be one in Metro Manila. Which one of the cities in Metro Manila, we still don't know. There might be another city somewhere in the Philippines. It will depend a little bit on the infrastructure, availability, and various factors," Yarza said on Friday in the preliminary press conference ahead of next year's tournament at the Citadines Bay City Hotel.

"We would like to go to at least another city in the country to play."

PFF president John Gutierrez added, "Upon the encouragement of the FIFA team, we are now made known that it would be better for us to give opportunities not just in Metro Manila but also in other parts of the Philippines."

One non-Metro Manila city FIFA and PFF are looking at, according to Gutierrez, is Cebu City.

Both Gutierrez and Yarza said that they will plan to go to Cebu City in a future visit.

Yarza, together with FIFA futsal manager Laura Cusco and FIFA head of Olympics, futsal, and beach soccer Kasra Haghighi, arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday for a short visit to kickstart the preparations for the FIFA Futsal WWC.

After inspecting some Metro Manila arenas, they paid a courtesy call to Philippine Sports Commission chairman Dickie Bachmann and addressed the media along with Gutierrez on Friday before flying back to Zurich later in the day.

According to Yarza, they will check the construction site of the SM Seaside Arena just near SM Seaside City Cebu to see the progress of its development.

"This is an option that's been mentioned to us," Yarza said, although he added that whether the soon-to-finish arena will become a match venue will depend on the final date the PFF will set for the FIFA Futsal WWC and the projected time the indoor venue will be finished.

Gutierrez said that they are planning to have the tournament by the fourth quarter of next year, and they are hoping that the new arena will be finished by that time.

MOA Arena, Smart Araneta Coliseum confirmed as under consideration for FIFA Futsal WWC

On the other hand, while Gutierrez said that there are no final venues yet, he confirmed an insider report that the nearby SM Mall of Asia Arena and the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City are among the arenas being considered as match venues for Metro Manila.

Gutierrez, though, revealed that the PhilSports Arena in Pasig is also a potential match venue for the inaugural FIFA Futsal WWC pitting 16 of the best women's futsal national teams.

"There will be a report on the inspection, and we will see which of these venues FIFA will approve," Gutierrez further said.

He also said that they went to the aforementioned arenas during their "off-days", that is, when there were no scheduled events in those arenas, to get a glimpse of the possible setup should one of them will be chosen.

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