MANILA, Philippines -- A record number of 204 national teams will slug it out for the 31 remaining berths in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but Philippine football officials have once again snubbed the qualifiers of the flagship competition of the International Football Federation (FIFA).
Johnny Romualdez, president of the Philippine Football Federation, defended the decision not to vie for a World Cup slot, saying it is ?too costly and counterproductive.? The PFF also skipped the 2006 World Cup qualifiers.
The PFF president cited a qualifying match in Qatar, where the football body spent P1 million alone for the transportation of the national booters and went home with its morale dampened by a 10-0 clobbering suffered at the hands of the Qataris.
?We have to work on becoming more competitive first before joining the qualifiers,? said Romualdez, whose term has so far been highlighted by a strong second place finish in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) qualifiers in November last year.
?What may be the priority of the others may not be our priority?.
The national booters? last tournament was in Bangkok in January when the Philippines finished seventh among eight teams in the AFF tournament.
National coach Aris Caslib also announced his resignation from the senior team, opting to concentrate on the Under-23 squad for the 2005 Southeast Asian Games.
Among the PFF?s priorities this year is the inauguration of its three-storey building, called ?House of Football,? in Pasig City.
FIFA president Joseph Blatter of Switzerland and AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar have confirmed their attendance in the inauguration in December.
FIFA has approved a $400,000 (roughly P19.2 million) budget for the building, Romualdez said.
Romualdez said the decision to skip the World Cup qualifiers was made even during the leadership of Rene Adad, whose term ended in 2003. The last time the Philippines joined the qualifiers was in the 2002 World Cup co- hosted by Korea and Japan.
The football associations of Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam and Laos have also decided to forego the qualifiers set to start in August.