SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin Henson The Philippine Star Updated March 07, 2012 12:00 AM
News of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) match commissioner Cristy Ramos’ complaint against two Philippine Azkal players for sexual harassment spread like wildfire in Spanish media as one of those charged Angel Aldeguer Guirado has roots in Malaga.
Guirado’s mother Angela frantically called her sister Gloria Garcia by phone yesterday to ask what her son did. Gloria lives in Parañaque and is the mother of Rain Or Shine PBA assistant coach Caloy and Rafa who acts as Guirado’s translator. Angela, a Filipina-Spanish mestiza from Isabela, resides in Spain with her Spanish husband Juan. Guirado, 27, is the youngest of three children. His older brother Juan Luis, 32, recently joined the Azkals.
Angela was in tears when she phoned her sister. Gloria was just as distraught because since Guirado arrived here to play for the Azkals last year, she has painstakingly made sure he would always be at his best behavior.
“My sister was crying on the phone because Angel is being called a sexual offender in the Spanish news,” said Gloria. “Angel just isn’t the type. He’s very fun-loving. He likes to joke around a lot. His brother Juan is the opposite. He’s like a little boy, down-to-earth, serious. They’re different from each other. But they’re good boys. My sister raised them well, more like Filipinos than Spanish. My sister asked if Angel made any sexual advances or innuendoes or even touched Ms. Ramos. I told her no such thing. My son Rafa was in the dressing room when Ms. Ramos entered. The boys were rowdy and excited about playing.”
In the complaint filed before the AFC Disciplinary Committee, it was apparent that the Azkals, at least Guirado and Lexton Moy, showed disrespect to Ramos as match commissioner. It seemed like they didn’t take her role seriously.
“Rafa told me before Ms. Ramos entered, the boys were talking about things boys normally talk about in the dressing room – girls,” said Gloria. “I don’t mean to condone what the boys did or said. I think the topic was cup sizes. There may have been a sexist remark in her presence but I don’t think it was meant to demean her. I don’t think the remark was malicious or so my son told me. As for Angel coming up to Ms. Ramos in briefs, there was no intent to sexually harass anyone. Boys will be boys. I think there was disrespect but I don’t think it was sexual harassment.”
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Neither Guirado nor Moy could be reached for comment as the accusation was made after they flew to Nepal where the Azkals will compete in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup on March 8-19.
A football aficionado wondered if Ramos could’ve held off until the players were given their day in court. “Maybe, Ms. Ramos could’ve filed her complaint with the PFF instead of going straight to the AFC,” the aficionado said. “An investigation could’ve been made by the PFF before elevating it to the AFC. It’s like washing dirty linen in public.” But another aficionado backed up Ramos, noting that she is answerable to the AFC as match commissioner not the PFF and just did her job.
Was the apparent disrespect shown to Ramos a case of sexual harassment? Would the players have been as disrespectful if the match commissioner were male? If Ramos was disrespected because she is female, then the concerned players deserve a severe reprimand – that would constitute a case of sexual discrimination. But would the players have been rowdy either way?
To justify the players’ behavior by explaining it was typical dressing room banter among boys won’t wash. Ramos is a person of authority. She was a former POC president and member of the AFC Women’s Commission. Surely, her mere presence deserves a high degree of respect. She is, after all, a daughter of a former Philippine President. But to charge the boys of sexual harassment may be a bit harsh. They should be censured, at the proper time and place, for disrespecting an AFC official and the penalty should be commensurate to the gravity of the offense and consider the behavioral history of the players involved. It is unfortunate that this negative report came out just before the Azkals’ campaign in Nepal – they could do with less distractions.
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The Philippines and seven other countries are playing in the Challenge Cup with the winner to advance to the 2015 Asian Cup. Defending champion North Korea is the only entry listed in the top of three levels of competitiveness in Asia. India, Turkmenistan, Maldives and Tajikistan are in the second level called developing countries. The Philippines, Palestine and host Nepal are in the lowest category called emerging countries.
The first Challenge Cup was held in 2006 with Tajikistan beating Sri Lanka in the finals in Bangladesh. The second was in 2008 with India defeating Tajikistan for the crown in India. The third was staged two years ago with North Korea upending Turkmenistan in the championship match in Sri Lanka.
The eight teams are split into two brackets. The Philippines is in the so-called Group of Death with 2006 champion Tajikistan, 2008 champion India and 2010 champion North Korea. The top two from each bracket will move on to the semifinals. The Azkals battle North Korea on Friday, India on Sunday and Tajikistan on Tuesday. The semifinals are scheduled March 16 and the finals March 19.