By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Ilonggo sportsman Mariano “Nonong” Araneta Jr. opened the year with a bang after keeping his seat in the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) for the term of 2023-2027.
The native of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo was rewarded with the seat by the Asian football community during the 33rd AFC Congress held in Manama, Bahrain last February 1, 2023.
Araneta only needed the minimum vote count of 23 but received an impressive 34 final votes in the election ceremony.
AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa presided over the floor and also earned a fresh term until 2027.
Accompanying Araneta during the AFC Congress were PFF vice president Joselito Pinol, PFF board member Jay Adriatico and PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes.
“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Asian Football Confederation family for their trust and confidence in electing me to the FIFA Council for the term 2023-2027,” said Araneta.
Araneta was one of the most persevering sports officials during the past years after serving as the Philippines’ chef de mission during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
The Ilonggo pushed for the national athletes’ return to practice amid the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in a historic gold medal win by Hidilyn Diaz, two silver medals, and one bronze.
Araneta is still the president of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and is currently involved in the decision-making of the Philippine Women’s national football team set to compete in the FIFA World Cup.
“Being in the FIFA Council is a position I do not take lightly and I am well aware of the responsibility given to me. I look forward to continuing our work in the FIFA Council to advance initiatives meant to develop, grow and promote The Beautiful Game,” added Araneta.