Due to the rising COVID-19 cases in the country, the Philippine Football League (PFL) announced on Saturday that they will be scrapping the return of Copa Paulino Alcantara and eyeing to kick off the new season in July 17.

/ 30 March 2021

The Copa Paulino Alcantara was supposed to be the 2021 season opener scheduled in April under a bubble format, however, it will be deferred for the second straight year.

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

Araneta also said that “we decided that we will proceed with the league by 17 July when we have the vaccines rolled out already.”

PFL has also considered the FIFA World Qualifiers in China in June where the Azkals will be participating as well as AFC Champions League play-off and group stage where PFL clubs Kaya FC-Iloilo and United City FC will be competing in deciding a new date for the 2021 season.

The PFF has communicated with the participating clubs about the new schedule to plan ahead of the PFL start and presented it to Qatar Airways, their sponsor.

“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,” he added.

PFF will also be providing the players and officials vaccines for their protection, according to Araneta.

“We’re giving them a choice as PFF will be spending for the vaccines. I’m confident that they will accept these vaccines,” he said.

The league is planning to increase the number of matches this upcoming season and to expand the number of teams from six to eight.

“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.”