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How Cristy Ramos may have helped the Azkals

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SAN FRANCISCO—The Azkals had a good week this week. After losing to North Korea, they came back to win against India 2-0.

But that’s not the only big story about the famous Philippine football team which has helped ignite interest in the sport in the country.

It’s international women’s month, and in an odd twist, the Azkals are marking the occasion by wrestling with allegations of sexual harassment and crude behavior toward women.

That’s certainly bad news.

The allegations were made by Cristy Ramos, former head of the Philippine Olympic Committee and a one-time national football player herself. (She also happens to be the daughter of former President Fidel Ramos.)

Ramos’s complaint was aimed mainly at players Angel Guirado and Lexton Moy. As reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, she also had strong words against team captain James Younghusband whom she accused of not doing enough to discipline his teammates.

“He didn’t do anything to his teammates,” Ramos was quoted as saying. “I hope he teaches his players to behave well.”

I first heard of Ramos from my cousin Butchie Impelido, the North America scout for the Malditas, as the Philippine women’s national team members are called.

He said Ramos didn’t like the name “malditas.” Essentially, he said, she thought it was demeaning to the Filipinas. But the name has stuck and the team has moved on.

I’ve been told by a source Ramos is a pretty controversial figure in Philippine football circles. Apparently, she rubs some people the wrong way.  And she certainly has struck a nerve with her complaint, provoking some pretty harsh attacks on Twitter.

But I’ll say this: Anyone who takes the trouble to consider the way the country’s female athletes and women in general are portrayed deserves to be heard.

Anyone who would have the guts to publicly take on a team like the Azkals, who have become a group of male folk heroes in a macho-obsessed culture like ours deserves to be taken seriously.

Moy, one of the Azkals players she accused of behaving badly, put out a statement, calling Ramos’s complaint “a heartbreaking misunderstanding.”

“It deeply saddens me that such a misinterpretation can be so painstakingly blown out of proportion. I cannot wait for the truth to come out, as I am being wrongfully labeled, judged and criticized,” he said.

The suggestion is that Ramos made up or perhaps imagined the bad behavior she said she encountered, including Moy allegedly asking her about her bra size. One source familiar with the team said it had all been a misunderstanding. Well, hopefully, it is.

Especially since the recent controversy follows last year’s rape allegations against some team members.  That too, was portrayed by this source as “a misunderstanding”—though the explanation wasn’t exactly reassuring—that the allegations shouldn’t be taken seriously because they were made by a woman some team members portrayed as a slut.

Which brings us back to the twisted machismo that may be at the heart of the Azkals’ image problem. There are some encouraging signs that the team’s leadership gets it.

“This issue has taught players how even a small thing can lead to a huge and painful misunderstanding, and they now want to take extra measures to avoid a similar future occurrence and see what we can do to help champion gender rights,” team manager Dan Palami was quoted as saying in the Philippine Star.

Government officials, led by Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, are focusing on the fact that the Azkals being composed of Filipinos who were raised in the U.S. and Europe. I don’t completely buy that argument.

Had Moy, who is from New York, behaved in the way he allegedly behaved in the United States, he would have been in deep trouble with his team and the American public. As my cousin Butchie, whose daughters played for a university in Illinois, noted, in the U.S. even college players must undergo forms of gender sensitivity courses.

Instead, I’d argue that this incident is about young men who enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity and prominence in a culture in which male star athletes sometimes think they can pretty much get away with anything — and who badly needed to be reminded that all that fame and attention comes with responsibility.

I’m writing this as one of many overseas Filipinos who want the Azkals to succeed.

My own sons aren’t into football (or soccer as it’s called in the U.S.) But I know many Filipino soccer moms and dads who would certainly be proud to have their children play for the Philippines. My own cousin Butchie pushed hard to have two of his daughters play for the women’s national team.

But this isn’t just about overseas Filipinos, or Fil-foreigners as they are also called. At the end of the day, this is about helping the growth of Philippine football, about encouraging more young kids throughout the archipelago to become excited about the world’s most popular sport.

The Azkals have played an important role in this change. They deserve a lot of credit. The presence of foreign-born Pinoy players also helped expand our definition of Filipino at a time when our overseas communities are growing steadily.

But the Azkals must now take every effort to project pretty much a spotless public image. It’s their responsibility.

Cristy Ramos may not be the most popular figure in Philippine sports right now, but I really think she just gave the Azkals a much-needed jolt.

And this whole mess may turn out to be just a minor bump in the road.

Fifteen maybe 10 years from now, when the Philippines is an even more formidable force in football, when the sport has become even more popular in the archipelago thanks to the successes of the Azkals, we will hopefully remember this incident as just a sad footnote in the team’s storied history.

On Twitter @KuwentoPimentel. On Facebook at www.facebook.com/benjamin.pimentel


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Tags: Angel Guirado , Azkals , Cristy Ramos , football , gender , Gender Sensitivity , Lexton Moy , Sexual Abuse , Soccer

  • PinoyAko2012

    Ramos should learned how to deal with those players.. they are just happy saying what they learned from filipinos .. i know people teach them the bad filipino words just like others do but I know those are jokes only. But the issue is that ramos misunderstand them which is realy true because these players are good and they are doing their very best to do every thing just to win the game… well since the two guys are not going into the game then send ramos to the goal   whuuuuuuuuaaaaaa  sabi ni miriam

    • Manuel_II

       you mean she should get used to be being sexual harass by the players, uL0l mo, i need to see you send your sister and daughter to the lockeroom of the Azkal dogs, and let’s see how would you react.

      • PinoyAko2012

        If that is what u think on how she deal withthise players then ur like miriam deffective.. You can start walking down the street if you want. No need to mention my family with that because its nothing to deal with it so easy to handle that kind of problem and if you want to be respected as a leader you must know how to win them. Unlike your hero ramos she is a big loser and don’t deserved that job like whuuuuuaaaaaaa

      • Manuel_II

        ano raw? LOL

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4ASXURX4GSEVK7VHKF2BBN5E3M Ronald

        Sana daw sya na lang ang pinapasok sa locker room at pinatitig sa briefs ni Guirado.

  • marcial101

    Had Moy, who is from New York, behaved in the way he allegedly behaved
    in the United States, he would have been in deep trouble with his team
    and the American public. 

    sumisikat na kasi kaya lulalaki ulo ng ibang askals.

    ipaharass na lang ni miss ramos si Angel Guirado and Lexton Moy sa mga military friends ng dating presidente pagkatapos ng tournament para matakot.

    • kambaltuko

      NAGPASABI BA SI RAMOS NA PAPASOK SYA SA LOCKER ROOM ?ININTAY BA NIYA NA MAGBIHIS ANG MGA PLAYER ,,,BAGO PUMASOK ,,KUNG MAYUTAK SYA DAPAT ININTAY NIYA SA LABAS ANG MGA PLAYER ,,SUWERTE PA NGA SYA DAHIL NAKA UNDER WEAR ANG PLAYER SA AMERICA ANG MGA PLAYER AY MGA HUBO .. BAKA KAYA SYA PUMASOK SA LOCKER ROOM NG WALANG PASABI AY GUSTO NIYANG MAKITA NA HUBO ANG MGA PLAYER MAMBOBOSO SYA ..SABI NIYA BASTOS DAW ANG PLAYER EH SYA ANG BASTOS ..

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/LTUXME3YNITCPKCYHCMIAXDL54 ryan Mamporte

         hoy kambaltuko! ito mga sagot sa tanong mo. 1. oo. kasi procedure yan na magchekc sa locker room kasi responsibility ni ramos, kasi match commisioner sya. and standard procedure magcheck sa locker room ng team. eto full statement nya para maliwanagan ka:

        Whenever I serve as the Match Commissioner, I always follow a standard
        procedure for the team check regardless of the type of match. At the
        time of the check I initially knock loudly at the door of the changing
        room as a sign of courtesy and warning to the team, and then let the
        Fourth Official first enter the changing room to check if the players are ready before I finally enter
        the room. Before doing the check itself, I properly introduce myself as
        the Match Commissioner and also introduce the Fourth Official. I also
        explain the procedure of how the check will be done. I always tell the players
        that I will be checking their accreditation cards first then their
        jerseys, and that the Fourth Official will thereafter check the rest of
        their kits and other items, e.g., jewellery, hair accessories,
        fingernails etc. I also tell them the sequence of the check, i.e., I
        check the starting 11 players first then proceed with the substitutes.

        At the appointed time (1745H) on match day, I came to the changing room
        of the Philippine team for the team check. I was accompanied by Fourth
        Official Wilfredo Bermejo and my liaison officer, Mr Joseph Gensaya. I
        initially knocked loudly at the door to signal my arrival. A team
        official opened the door and said that the team would be ready in five
        (5) minutes. We then waited for five minutes presuming that the team was
        getting ready for the team check. When we entered the changing room of
        the Philippine team, I properly introduced ourselves and explained the
        procedure for the check. In spite of the introduction the players remained rowdy and noisy, apparently not taking the team check seriously and almost ignoring our presence. As I called the players
        individually so that we could check their accreditation cards and kits,
        Philippine player LEXTON MOY (no. 25) stood by my right side and said
        in a loud voice “Must be a B cup,” to which the players laughed loudly.
        As I was the only female in the room, he was apparently referring to my
        bra size. He could not have been talking about men’s athletic cups, as
        their sizes are specified as extra-small, small, medium, large, and
        extra-large vis-a-vis cup sizes of women’s brassieres, which are
        specified in letters. Additionally when I checked Philippine player
        ANGEL GUIRADO (no. 12) he stood in front of me purposely just wearing
        his briefs and made no attempts to wear shorts or cover his underwear.
        Again, the players loudly laughed while I was checking this player.

  • Manuel_II

    isa pang ul0l na bading oh, mag basa ka nga ng complaint ni Ms. Ramos, LOL

  • Loggnat

     It’s locker room humor, I bet you that if a guy walk in a woman’s locker room some woman will say  ‘must be a size very small cup’. =)) Women is as rowdy as the guys in their in their own locker room. =))) They are also as protective when an opposite gender invades their space.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FIR2A7XLY6QUYZ3RUMJH2ZPOP4 sixtypercent

    kasi naman naturingang sports official pero sa media tumakbo at hindi sa sports governing body.. may mga ahensyang mag iimbestiga sa mga kaso lalo na sa football, napakahigpit ng disiplina dyan.. 



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