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MANILA, Philippines – Christmas has come early for football fans.
The Los Angeles Galaxy football team, arguably the most popular American football team today, will be coming to Manila. They are scheduled to play a friendly game against the Azkals on December 3rd in Rizal Stadium, a match hailed as a historic event for Philippine football.
Thomas Payne, the LA Galaxy President of Business Operations, came to Manila just for the day to inspect Rizal Stadium and to answer questions from the media, as well as to officially help announce the good news.
Rumors about the LA Galaxy first broke on Twitter last week, but it was followed by uncertainty. Payne quelled any worries or concerns including the biggest one: will English football superstar David Beckham come as well?
“Barring any injuries… our entire team will be here,” he said. He also said that the team is used to traveling together post-season, something they signed up for when they joined the team.
Payne said that along with Beckham, Irish striker Robbie Keane, and Landon Donovan, who he considers America’s best football player, will be coming too. He expressed excitement about bringing the sport to this part of the world, saying it is good for football in general.
Jinx Macabenta of US based producer Fulcels, Inc., who helped organize the match, also announced that a football camp for children with LA Galaxy will take place on December 2 at Rizal. This is in accordance with the team’s desire to promote the sport among local kids.
Philippine Football Federation President Nonong Araneta, has pledged support for the LA Galaxy.
“The PFF will of course be supporting the LA Galaxy’s trip here,” he said. “They will have our full cooperation.” Araneta also expressed happiness in the Rizal Stadium’s success in meeting the LA Galaxy team’s standards.
The American soccer team is as excited as Philippine football fans for the game, according to Payne.
“The team’s excited… they are always very interested in seeing new things,” he said. He said the team will do their best to put on a good show.
Araneta summarized the feeling of football fans of the nation in hearing the news. “Of course its a big match for us to end the year with the LA Galaxy coming here. What more can you ask for from football?,” he said.
Follow the reporter on Twitter: @natashya_g