By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE Philippine Football Federation (PFF) expressed disappointment over the delay in the Filipino naturalization of Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon, but it remains hopeful of it eventually getting the nod.
In a statement released on Tuesday night, PFF President Mariano Araneta said it was unfortunate that the papers of Mr. Maranon did not progress as hoped just as they were looking forward to adding the player to the national team in time for a key continental tournament next month.
The PFF statement came on the heels of the naturalization of Ivorian basketball player Angelo Kouame being signed into law by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday and announced a day later.
The papers of Mr. Kouame were filed around the same time as Mr. Maranon’s but while the former’s bid progressed, the latter’s papers were yet to be transmitted to Malacanang pending amendments to the bill granting him Filipino citizenship.
The naturalization of Mr. Maranon was discussed in the plenary of the House of Representatives on Tuesday with Congress concurring with Senate amendments on the bill.
The PFF could only surmise that the current challenges with the pandemic might have caused the delay, but it still could not help but rue what happened.
“We understand the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the process which may have stalled Bienve’s papers in Congress. [But] It is unfortunate that Bienve wasn’t able to get his naturalization on the same day as Angelo as both of them went through the process together,” said Mr. Araneta.
The PFF head went on to say that admittedly, the snag has a direct effect on their push to assemble a formidable team for the joint continental qualifiers in early June.
“We have been facing challenges in preparing the men’s national team for the remaining matches of the joint FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in China starting June 3. We were hoping that the urgency of our situation would have made the process of Bienve’s naturalization faster. But with the current situation, we are facing the prospect of not having Bienve in the team for the remaining matches, considering the numerous requirements he has to comply with before he can suit up for the country.”
Just the same, Mr. Araneta said they in the PFF “remain patient and hopeful that Bienvenido Maranon can join the national team in the future.”
Mr. Maranon has been a steady fixture in the Philippines Football League as a member of Ceres-Negros FC, and, now, United City Football Club, where he is the top scorer.