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Football in the Philippines is organized by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF)

Despite football being popular among its Southeast Asian neighbors, football is usually overshadowed by another ball game known as basketball which is undeniably the most popular sport in the Philippines. Football is virtually unheard throughout the archipelago as there are no football league to talk about. There are also no stadium that can be said truly world class. In the recent years, football is becoming an emerging sport in the Philippines.

The 'Philippine national football team', nicknamed the ''Azkals'' (which is derived from ''askal'' or ''asong kalye'', the Tagalog colloquial term for ''street dog''), is the national team of the Philippines and is controlled by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF).

Despite being the oldest team in Asia, the Philippines has never had any significant success on the international stage. They are currently one of the weakest teams in the world and did not enter the qualification for both the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup tournaments in order to focus more on developing youth football and gaining valuable international playing experience by competing in regional tournaments such as the Southeast Asian Games. Football, however, is very popular and is in fact played by many people in the provinces of Iloilo, particularly in the municipality of Barotac Nuevo, the province of Negros Occidental and in the Mindanao islands.

Early History

azkalssupport.jpgHistorically, football in the Philippines had already achieved its peak in the thirties and early forties. After the game was introduced by British sailors from Hong Kong in the 1900s, foreigners have dictated the pace of the game. Although the British and Chinese presence are being felt in Manila and other southern cities, the Spanish connection remains the sole influence that dominates.

Before the war, basketball fever had begun to catch up with football but good games continued to pack the rafters at one time with 26,000 paying spectators. European sides often visited and played with local elevens like Turba Salvaje, YCO Athletic Club, Nomads, Casino and school squads like the University of Santo Tomas often played in floodlit fields.

Football has peaked in the Philippines several times, in the early 1900s to the 1940s and later died as the introduction of basketball, and the success of the country's basketball team, sparked fever among most Filipinos. Though several attempts to resurrect football in the Philippines have failed in the 1960s to the late 1970s, the Philippine Football Federation is still trying until this very day to once again resurrect football and to once again mount football as a national sport in the Philippines.

One notable player from the Philippines is Paulino Alcántara, a former Filipino/Spanish football player and manager who spent most of his playing career at FC Barcelona. He also played for the Catalan XI, the Philippines, and Spain. Alcántara made his senior debut for FC Barcelona at the age of 15 and remains the youngest player ever to play or score for the club. He also scored a remarkable 357 goals in 357 matches, making him the club's all-time leading goal scorer. Alcántara is also the first Filipino and Asian player ever to play for a European club.

Recent History

With the introduction of young and talented players such as team captain and defender Alexander Borromeo, Chelsea F.C. Reserves leading striker Phil Younghusband and his brother and AFC Wimbledon midfielder James, co-captain Philip Greatwich and his brother Christopher, and winger Emelio Caligdong, the Philippines started to perform better in international football in the 21st century and thus setting the standard for the improvement of the country's international football standing.

In September 2006 the country fell to 195th on the FIFA ranking scale, its lowest ever. By the end of the year, the Philippines moved back up to 171th overall, after qualifying for the 2007 ASEAN Football Championship with a 4-1 win over Brunei. However, their failure to advance from the preliminaries dropped the country's ranking to 179th. The recent string of poor performances caused the Philippines to refuse to enter the qualification stages for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The German Bundesliga recently expressed its willingness to help the development of football in the country.