Tuesday 19 December 2023, 18:45

Talent development focus of FIFA President’s talks with Philippine counterpart

  • Gianni Infantino and Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President John Gutierrez discuss future strategy

  • Women’s football success key pillar of plans to progress game in island nation

  • FIFA President congratulated Mr Gutierrez on recent election to PFF post

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has offered his support to the newly-elected Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President John Gutierrez as he starts to implement his ambitious future plans for talent development in the country.

Mr Gutierrez recently replaced Mariano Araneta as PFF President, and immediately announced “Walang maiiwan!” - No one will be left behind - in his first press conference in the role, referring to his plan to give every budding footballer among the archipelago’s population of some 110 million the chance to fully exploit their potential.

“I was pleased to meet Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President John Gutierrez in Jeddah to discuss future plans for talent development in his country and congratulate him on his recent election,” said Mr Infantino, who met Mr Gutierrez in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, ahead of Thursday’s FIFA Football Summit 2023 and Friday’s FIFA Club World Cup 2023™ final.

“The football progress made by the Philippines has been fantastic, highlighted by the women’s national team’s first-ever win at the FIFA Women's World Cup™ earlier this year,” added the FIFA President. “FIFA will keep working with everyone there so that together we can spread the joy of our beautiful game to girls and boys at all levels in the Philippines.”

Mr Gutierrez certainly has a significant legacy on which to build due to the stunning recent success of women’s football in the Philippines, which is the fruit of a long-term strategy put in place by Mr Araneta.

The end-of-year FIFA/Coca-Cola women’s rankings saw the country rise to 38th, their highest-ever placing, up from 53rd at the start of 2023. This follows a heady 12 months in which they made their FIFA Women’s World Cup™ debut, securing a first victory in the final tournament when they defeated co-hosts New Zealand.

Mr Gutierrez hopes those achievements will serve as a catalyst for everyone involved in football across the Philippines.

“It’s not only the girls that have the aspiration to be able to make it to the international level; it’s also the men – the boys – who have the idea that we can go further into the international game,” the PFF President said. “So, although it was the women’s national team that made this happen, we were as ecstatic as the women and the men in our country to be able to showcase our talent around the world.”

The new PFF headquarters - due to be completed in the second quarter of 2024 and built with funding from the FIFA Forward programme - will provide a central hub for further development projects.

Impetus has also come recently at grassroots level with the country joining the more than 100 FIFA Member Associations who have signed up to the FIFA Football for Schools initiative.

Launched in the south-east Asian nation by the FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura in November 2023, the programme aims to give children football and life skills by introducing the sport into the local curriculum, and fits neatly with how Mr Gutierrez is mapping out the Philippines’ football future.

“We would like to be able to provide our young boys and girls [with] the kind of training and the kind of exposure that is available in other countries – in countries that have already established their dominance in the beautiful game,” added Mr Gutierrez. 

“So, we would like to adapt, if not replicate, the kind of development that these countries have. And, hopefully, with the help of FIFA, with the support of FIFA, we will be able to achieve this goal.”