Geo-locking and fan support for the PHL women’s team

It was a great win by the Malditas–Filipinas for some of you–against Australia in their first game in the AFF Women’s Championship. However, there were two touchy issues during the first day–the geolocking of the Malditas matches by the Philippine Football Federation and the number of fans in the stands.

At first, I thought it was weird that the streaming of the games was limited to a fan-base that already had access to the games via free TV. But then I remembered that geo-locking is a modern monster I’ve regularly encountered, even when I’m not trying to watch a live stream.

ULTRAS SALUTE. Members of the women’s team applaud the small but vocal Ultras Filipinas and joined them in a rendition of the Viking clap after the game.

“Sorry this video isn’t available in your area,” is something I’ve encountered regularly after seeing a nice screenshot or a short recap of a video that entices you to click the link. In my case, it was often boxing or football-related and the only thing I could do was shrug it off. It is what it is.

In an ideal world, the Malditas (Filipinas) matches would be available to anyone for free, with no need to pay for a VPN or subscription. We sort of have that now, with the Philippine Football Federation teaming up with Cignal TV to air the games on free TV. Mind you, that’s quite a development considering our local league doesn’t have a TV partner.

As for the geo-locking, as the host and owner of the TV rights, the PFF has the right to look for TV partners among the 11 participant countries. And I’ve been told the fee isn’t even that huge; what the PFF is asking for is the same amount it paid for the streaming of the Malditas’ European games.

So I don’t think it’s the case of the PFF being greedy but that of the other members being too stingy with their women’s teams. Yep, the US isn’t a participant and most of our girls come from there, how to solve that?

FAN FAVORITE. Quenley Quezada, one of the fan favorites in the team, tries to look for an opening against Australia.

Well, I remember during the Suzuki Cup, I did sign up for TapGo and promptly ended subscription a month later when Internet was restored post-Odette. Signing up was my small contribution for the team, I hoped that at least it showed the rights owner there was a demand for Azkals matches. I hope there’s an option like that for US fans.

Geo-locking is normal. It’s been done before and it will be done again, and not only for football. Sure I got to watch the French Open and other major events but my streaming links were of the Jack Sparrow variety and sometimes, while in the middle of an interesting rally, they’d wobble off like gold ol’ Jack.

The first game had 1,500 and depending on where you stand, it was either a good turnout or a disappointing one. It was a rainy Monday night and tickets were expensive but if you’re a fan that shouldn’t hinder you, right?

Watching on TV, I thought it was a sparse crowd, that was before the other side was shown. The Ultras, again, were impressive and I just wished the guys near them would join them in their chants or dances. Please do, they don’t bite and you’ll have lots of fun.

VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE. The 1,500-strong fans who watched the game at the RMS, this crowd wasn’t visible because of the camera angle on TV.

Whether fans would come in droves if the matches were held somewhere else is an exercise in futility. (If my aunt had balls, then he’d be my uncle). So, I guess that next best thing we who can’t be there could do is to look for ways to encourage people who can be there, to be there. Buy a ticket for those who can’t afford one? Encourage nearby FAs to send in a delegation?

I agree with coach Alen Stajcic, these girls deserve a full stadium and Rizal hasn’t seen a full one since the Kuwait game if I remember it right. To paraphrase Obi Wan, “We will do what we must.”

Mike T. Limpag
Mike T. Limpag

Mike T. Limpag has covered the Cebu sports scene for over 20 years, starting as an 18-year-old cub reporter for the Freeman in 1997 before moving to SunStar Cebu in 2001.

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