Luisa Morales (Philstar.com) – March 28, 2021 – 10:28am

MANILA, Philippines — The new Philippines Football League (PFL) season will have to wait a couple of more months before returning to the pitch after a new kick off date in July 2021 was announced on Saturday.

Initially slated to begin with the Copa Paulino Alcantara from April to May under a bubble format, the PFL’s fifth season opener has been moved to July 17 following rising cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

This also means that the Copa Paulino Alcantara will be deferred for the second straight year due to the pandemic.

“The Copa Paulino Alcantara will not push through this year because of the current situation,” said Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta.

“We decided that we will proceed with the league by July 17 when we have the vaccines rolled out already.

Apart from the vaccine roll out, the league also took into consideration the international window on June where the men’s national team is set to compete in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in China, while PFL clubs Kaya FC-Iloilo and United City FC will also be seeing action in the AFC Champions League play-off and group stage around the same time.

PFF to provide vaccines

A crucial part of restarting the competition, per PFF President Araneta, is to spend for the vaccines for the players and its officials.

Though subject to willingness by the players and officials themselves, the PFF itself will make the vaccines easily available with no financial costs to its players.

“We’re giving them a choice as PFF will be spending for the vaccines,” said Araneta.

“I’m confident that they will accept these vaccines,” he added.

Barring no further complications due to the health crisis, the league is also planning more matches for its teams after clubs only playing five matches in the bubble season last year.

“With the vaccine set to roll out this year, we look forward to giving the clubs more competitive matches to keep the players physically fit, which will benefit our clubs participating at the domestic level, international competitions, and our national team,” said PFL commissioner Coco Torre.





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