PH Football Azkals Sorry Ramos for Sexual Harassment Scandal

By Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Azkals team manager Dan Palami has apologized to Cristy Ramos, the match commissioner of the recent Phl XI-Malaysia showdown at Rizal Memorial who was offended by some of the Azkals' behavior during her pre-game inspection at the team's dugout.

"On behalf of the team, I sincerely apologize to Commissioner Ramos for the distress this situation has caused her," Palami said in his official statement, assuring Ramos of prompt action on the matter.

Two Azkals, Angel Guirado and Lexton Moy, are under fire for their banter before the Malaysia gig that Ramos perceived as "sexual harassment and disrespect." She filed a complaint with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and met with Palami and officials of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) last Friday, the same day the Azkals left for Nepal for the final stretch of preparations for the AFC Challenge Cup.

"Since the players have already left the country for the AFC tournament, a dialogue between them and commissioner Ramos is not possible at the moment. Nonetheless, we will not put off the investigation even as we prepare for a major tournament," said Palami, who postponed his flight to Nepal to discuss the incident report with Ramos right away.

"I will sit down with my players and staff and get to the bottom of this," he added.

 Ramos took offense with Guirado being in his undies during the inspection, which is supposedly not an unfamiliar sight at dugouts during pre-games, and Moy's alleged statement on bra size that the Azkals claimed were not directed at Ramos at all. Palami expressed belief there was "no intention to disrespect" Ramos or any official.

"In my personal experience of the usual goings-on in the men's locker room, the tension, excitement and nervous energy before a match often result in a lot of boisterous bantering. For someone who walks into this situation, this might appear as bordering on disrespect.

"But again, I am speaking only from my personal experience. I was not witness to the particular incident which was the subject of the incident report. Until I hear from all sides, I cannot comment substantially on the matter," Palami said.

He stressed that management and the PFF is taking the alleged incident seriously. The PFF is conducting a parallel investigation while awaiting further instructions from the AFC.

"Like commissioner Ramos, I also believe that sexual harassment should not be tolerated in any situation. I will look into the circumstances of this alleged incident and cooperate with any investigation. If it is proven that there was in fact malicious intent, I will make sure that proper sanctions are meted out," Palami said.

The Azkals arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal last Friday, and hope to stay focused despite the controversy to prepare for their AFC Challenge Cup bid beginning March 9 against defending champion North Korea.

"I still wish all the best for the Philippines," Ramos said in a radio interview.

"Gusto kong manalo ang Pilipinas, why not, di ba eh Filipino rin naman tayo, taga-Pilipinas. Ngunit ang sinasabi ko lang din mag-ingat din sila. Isa-puso nila, isa-diwa, isaisip nila na Filipino sila at sila ay dapat magpakita ng katanggap-tanggap at kung ano ang pinakamaganda sa lahi natin (I want the Phl Azkals to win since I'm a Filipino too. But what I'm just trying to say is they should be conscious and careful of their actions. They should put into heart that they're Filipinos and they should display all the good things about our race)," she added.

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