During a February UFL (United Football League) Cup match, Global FC battled against Nomads at Rizal Memorial Stadium in the heart of Manila. The game, a competitive and entertaining affair, was also a case study of how difficult it has been to grow pro soccer in the Philippines.
Global, one of the best-funded and most successful professional teams in the country, was battling against Nomads, a 102-year-old semi-professional team. Despite perfect conditions for the game, only a few hundred spectators sat in the 12,000-seat stadium. Nomads held Global to only a first half goal but succumbed down the stretch, losing 4-0.
I watched the game in the stands with Bob Guerrero, a soccer journalist, and football supporter (Twitter account @PassionateFanPH) in the Philippines. He has observed firsthand the birthing pains from growing soccer in the country.
“It has struggled,” lamented Guerrero. “There are some fans, there is a niche support, but it hasn’t received wide mass support.”