Philippine Azkals faces rape allegation

Just as the team preps up for the second round of the 2014 World Cup Asia qualifiers game, four members of the Philippine National Men’s Football Team are being hounded by rape allegations swarming around internet blogs and forums.

What started as a blind item on the web soon caught public attention. The issue involved Azkals Neil Etheridge, Simon Greatwich, Anton del Rosario, and Jason Sabio who purportedly raped a woman while videotaping the act inside the house of Azkals manager Dan Palami.

On a report made by GMA 7’s 24 Oras on Monday, the rumor started when a Filipino gossip blogger posted of what was supposedly a conversation between Azkals head Coach Hans Michael Weiss and Etheridge with a certain Paul Weiler.

Weiler, who is yet to emerge his real identity, is a German national who is said to cause the controversy. According to reports of TV5, the allegations started after Weiler sent an email to several blogs about the incident. In the email, Weiler wrote that he was close to the national team and its players until June 15, when he was suspended by the Azkals head coach over his supposed knowledge of the issue.

Palami who is quick to deny the allegation however confirmed Weiler’s vague tie with the team saying he applied to become a consultant of Azkals 10 years ago, during the time of former Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President Johnny Romualdez.

Palami added he met Weiler in Germany whom he told to secure accreditation from the current administration. Weiler then asked to be a consultant to the team, which he rejected because the position was not needed.

Azkals’ team manager felt that Weiler might not be too happy on the rejection and made up story to get back at them. Some members of the football team who don’t have permanent houses in the country did use Palami’s house as a halfway home. He also stressed that there’s no such incident that ever took place. Weiss also denied the accusation and cautioned the public not to believe everything on the internet.

The team said they are set to investigate the incident even though the facts remain vague. Palami appealed to the public to verify facts before falling into the trap “Before we judge or post anything, siguro check muna natin yung facts because maraming taong naaapektuhan,” Palami said on 24 Oras.

Meanwhile, those who are involved on the matter reached out to the fans and dismissed the speculations through their social site accounts.

Despite the controversy, Azkals remains focused and determined to win the game against Kuwait on July 23. The team recently won a match against Sri Lanka with a combined score of 5-1 making them the first Philippine team to win a FIFA World Cup qualifying playoff match.

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