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2023 Women's World Cup

In the Philippines, women’s soccer is suddenly must-see TV

Days before the World Cup, there still wasn’t a TV deal in the Philippines. Now, after a historic first win, citizens are flocking to malls to watch their team make more history.

Joe Serci / SPP

There are over 5,000 miles between Manila, Philippines and Wellington, New Zealand.

But when Sarina Bolden headed in the winning goal for the Philippines against New Zealand on Tuesday, the distance shrunk. In that historic moment, Manila was right there with Bolden and her teammates.

“When I turned off the mics and just listened to the crowd…I felt like this crowd, the sound, was coming from Manila,” said Paolo Del Rosario, a TV announcer in the Philippines. “Even the coach [Alen Stajcic] mentioned it to the commenter in the postgame press conference, saying that it felt like a home game in Manila because of the amount of Filipinos present at the venue.”

Del Rosario is based in Manila and works for Filipino channel One Sports, which is part of Cignal TV.

That Tuesday, he had the privilege of calling the Philippines’ now-legendary first World Cup win over New Zealand, alongside co-commentator Armando Del Rosario (no relation). 

But the amazing moment almost didn’t happen — not in any sort of accessible way, at least. The 2023 World Cup was very nearly not broadcast to the Asian nation’s population of 114 million people. 

It wasn’t until July 17 — three days before the opening match — that Cignal TV managed to reach an agreement with FIFA for the rights to broadcast the tournament in the Philippines. The matches were made available on the free-to-air channel One Sports as well as streaming for free via Cignal’s newest OTT platform. 

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