The Philippines Football League brought to you by Qatar Airways is scheduled to kick off on 17 July 2021.
The PFL’s 2021 season was supposed to begin with the Copa Paulino Alcantara from April to May 2021 under a bubble format, but rising COVID-19 cases in the country, particularly in the National Capital Region and surrounding areas has prompted the league to defer the holding of the Cup for the second straight year and push back the start of the season.
In deciding on the new kickoff date, the PFL also took into consideration the international window on June 2021 when the men’s national team competes in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in China as well as the AFC Champions League play-off and group stage where PFL clubs Kaya FC-Iloilo and United City FC will be competing.
“The (Copa Paulino Alcantara) will not push through this year because of the current situation,” said PFF President Mariano Araneta, Jr. “We decided that we will proceed with the league by 17 July when we have the vaccines rolled out already.”
The PFF has already communicated the league kickoff date to title sponsor Qatar Airways and the participating clubs so they can plan accordingly ahead of the season.
“We understand the situation the clubs are facing during these challenging times,” added PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes. “With a scheduled kickoff date of 17 July, the clubs will be able to plan accordingly for another exciting PFL season.”
Part of the PFF’s plan to restart the competition is to spend on the vaccines for the players and officials.
“The players are welcome to be vaccinated as it is protection with them,” added Araneta. “We’re giving them a choice as PFF will be spending for the vaccines. I’m confident that they will accept these vaccines.”
The league is also targeting an increase in the number of matches for this year with 28 to 84 matches being proposed to the clubs, which is also on the verge of expansion from six to eight teams.
“Last year, clubs were only able to play five matches in the bubble season,” said PFL Commissioner Coco Torre. “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.”