The Philippines Expat

An expat blog and local guide to culture, food, travel and the nightlife in Cebu City, The Philippines

Where to Watch Football in Cebu

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If you want to watch football in Cebu, but don’t know where to watch it, here is everything you need to know. There are several bars in Cebu where you can watch every football game and meet other expats, which I will tell you about in more detail further down. Evidently this blog post will be useful for anyone who wants to watch the World Cup in Cebu, but also for the 2014/2015 Premier League season which starts in August.

sexy-korean-fan
 

For the purposes of this article, football refers to what my American and Filipino readers would commonly know as “soccer” – the game where you use your foot to kick a ball, as opposed to the sport where you carry an egg with your hand…

Hand egg
source: Zwinglius Redivivus

Sport in the Philippines

If you do like football, then the Philippines is without doubt the worst place in the world to watch it. Most of Asia certainly loves football, but The Philippines is very different to their neighbours. They are heavily influenced by American culture, especially basketball, which was introduced to Filipinos by US troops during numerous military operations over here. Since then, the Philippines has adopted basketball as it’s national sport and you can’t walk down a street without seeing a basketball hoop somewhere.

Y U No Like Football?, Why Don't you like football meme

They are so obsessed with basketball that very, very few people actually like or follow football. When the average height of adult men in this country is 5″5, this makes no sense to me. If you look at the Spanish national football team that won back to back European championships in 2008 and 2012, and the World Cup in 2010, the majority of the players are under 6 foot. The French national team also has a player called Matthew Valbuena who is only 5″5, and yet one of the top players in European football. With that in mind, most Filipinos (no offence) are not physically built for basketball, but football is a sport that they could feasibly compete in at the World Cup, should the population of 90m people adopt it as their national sport.

That’s not to say that Filipinos don’t play football at all – they do have a national team called the Azkals (a local term for ‘street dog’ – which is rather apt for how locals view the sport). The Azkals appear to be a team mostly comprised of half-Filipino models who play in their spare time against equally terrible footballing nations such as Palestine and Pakistan (and seem to lose most of those games too).

Watching Football in Cebu

In places like Thailand and Dubai, you can watch any English football game live on TV. In the Philippines, you can’t even watch ANY premier league games currently. I have heard rumours that Balls channel (yes, it’s actually called Balls channel), will be showing live premier league games for the 2014/2015 season, but until I actually see a live game on my TV screen, I don’t want to get my hopes up.

Balls channel does however show Champions League games and it has also been showing every World Cup game, although they don’t have pundits so half time just comprises of the same 5 commercials on repeat, mixed in with the official world cup song music video. If you want to get Balls channel, you’ll need a basic Skycable subscription – I think you can get this for around 400 PHP a month. Make sure you don’t get the other cable TV providers here as I’ve heard that they don’t even have Balls Channel. Balls Channel also shows a lot of UFC so it’s pretty good to have.

Balls Channel Logo

Despite no local TV stations showing live Premier League Games, you can still go to the following bars that will show all of the big matches.

1. Urban Cellar

I have previously mentioned Urban Cellar in my list of 50 things to Do in Cebu, and it is one of the only places to watch football in Cebu. Urban Cellar is an English owned bar in Talamban, serving English food (done in a Filipino style) and showing English and European football games on a huge screen. If you want to watch football here though, go early to avoid standing, as there aren’t a huge amount of seats inside and it can get pretty crowded for the big games (I had a terrible seat for Arsenal vs Liverpool last season). You will usually find some local football fans in here, along with expats, and there’s a pretty good atmosphere. I was here for the FA Cup final and this is now my first choice of places to watch football.

Urban Cellar bar, football in cebu

Urban Cellar

 

2. The Emerald Isle Irish Pub

Located just next door to Urban Cellar in Talamban, the Emerald Isle is an Irish-themed pub (which I believe is also English-owned). The food here is probably a bit better than Urban Cellar and I had some really good quesadillas here once. They also have two big screens inside and one outdoor screen. I previously liked this bar more than Urban Cellar, just because I was able to get a better seat for the games.

However, I went there to watch the FA Cup Final and instead of showing it when I asked them, they instead decided to show the final game of the Spanish league season (which admittedly was also an important game). I could understand that decision, except for the fact that they have two screens and there was no one else in the bar other than me and my girlfriend. This made me very stressed as it was about 10 minutes before kick-off and I was extremely nervous about the game, so I just left and went to Urban Cellar next door. Anyway, don’t let my bad experience put you off as this is  still a great place to watch football and I’m sure I will return at some point next season.

Emerald Isle Irish Pub, Irish bar Cebu

3. Euro Hub Cafe and Bar

I’ve never actually watched football at this bar, but potentially it could also be a good alternative to the two above. Again, it is also located in the exact same spot in Talamban as the other two bars (why are the only bars that show football all so close together?). I would say that out of the three, Euro Hub serves the best food and I would recommend the milkshakes. It’s a mix of European-themed dishes (as the name suggests) and they also serve filipino food to keep your filipina girlfriend/date happy.

The layout is much more modern than Urban Cellar and Emerald Isle – this is more of a sports bar than an English/Irish pub like the other two i.e. they have a pool table and a much brighter interior. They’re certainly showing the World Cup at the moment and I’m sure that they probably also show other football games, but when I went there they were showing a replay of an old Man Utd vs. Liverpool game instead of the FA Cup Final, although I’m not sure anyone there knew it was an old game.

Euro Hub Cebu

4. The Joker’s Arms

The Joker’s Arms  is also pretty far from central Cebu City, located in Mandaue towards the Mactan bridge. I’ve never been here as it’s pretty far from where I live (would take about 30-40 minutes to drive there) and Talamban is maybe slightly closer, although still far away. According to their Facebook page they do show live premier league games (and world cup games) and it’s also a popular place with expats, and you’ll likely read about it in some of the expat forums here.

The Jokers Arms

5. Burrito Babes

Burrito Babes is a relatively new bar in Cebu, and is certainly very popular with foreigners (although again, I have never actually been – most likely because my girlfriend doesn’t want me going to a bar with ‘babes’). I know that they are showing World Cup games but not sure at the moment if they will show premier league games next season. It seems unlikely if I’m honest as most of the premier league games would be at peak times on Saturday nights and I think people come here more for partying (babes) than football, but you never know – they might consider it if you ask them nicely and they probably have the channel. However, I imagine it’s a good place to watch the World Cup at least, as they have a big reputation for food and Beer Pong, and it’s also more centrally located than the above options.

Burrito Babes
source: Burrito Babes – Facebook page

6. William Ninoy’s Payag

William Ninoy’s Payag Bar is very easy to get to as it’s just along from Capitol on the corner of Escario street. The bar is pretty small and they have a very used pool table, but they do at least have a TV that shows football. I used to come here sometimes to watch football when I first came to Cebu, but haven’t been in a long time. The TV screen behind the bar isn’t huge but they at least show the games (or did back in 2012 – I assume they still do). It’s got a nice local feel to it and it doesn’t get too crowded, it’s pretty much on a par with local bars here in Cebu. One downside though is that you will never get a smile out of the women that work there – they seem to always be in a bad mood, but don’t let that put you off. Probably more well-known for it’s weekly comedy club rather than football though.

William Ninoy's Payag Bar
source: Tumblr 

If you’re feeling lazy to go out or your game isn’t shown anywhere, you can use streaming sites like Wiziwig and various others, although I have had a mixed bag with streaming games as my internet connection is diabolical (as are all internet connections in the Philippines). You should also be prepared for the kick off times – 7:45pm in England is 2:45am here (or 3:45am when the clocks go forward), so watching football in Cebu is certainly anything but simple.

  • dan brown

    ugh, finally a new post by you. lol

    FYI, even if football is the better fit for us FIlipinos physically, i think we’d still have a very hard time penetrating the world cup. our south east asian neighbors like thailand, indonesia and vietnam are huge football nations and yet they can’t even dominate the asian region. also you don’t see asian powerhouses japan china nor korea doing well in world cup historically.

    on the other hand, Filipinos may be too small for basketball but would you believe we qualified for the fiba world championships this year in spain? our team would probably get some beating in there but at least we made it to the worlds lol

    • Jonny Lis

      haha yes it has been a while!

      yeah I agree, although are any of those countries as densely populated as the Philippines? I think another thing to take into account is that producing a good football team requires infrastructure, training academies etc. etc. – they won’t make it as professionals without coaching, which evidently isn’t very straightforward in the Philippines, so I see your point.

      South Korea did get really far in the tournament a few years ago and Japan have produced some great players over the years too, so they’re both respected footballing nations.

      Well yeah it’s good to get to the fiba tournament, and I’m sure the Filipino players in the basketball team are tall, but in general it’s a sport designed for tall people, so most filipinos can never even dream of becoming a star NBA player because they own’t grow tall enough.

      However, if they played football they could at least aspire to become a professional in a major league as they won’t be physically hindered by height requirements.

      But hey, I’m English and love football so of course I’m biased! haha

      • jorg

        Hi Johnny, as i have read all this discussion, let me tell you about our experience regarding Filipino and Soccer here in dumaguete. yes, ph is a Basketball Nation, but….there is a huge crowd of Footballers and also Teams. especially here in negros. i organized a public viewing for the Soccer Worldcup this year and we put it in the oceanfront Boulevard here in dumaguete. YES; A PUBLIC VIEWING . That was also supported by the official broadcaster ‘balls’, as they promoted our Event with a trailer on air. And, believe it or not, we had a crowd of more or less 1000 spectators during final match. Remember, 03.00 am, but all chairs were occupied at 1.30 already. more than 80% of the People Standing and sitting on the road. The main road ‘rizal boulevard’ was closed by cityorder. So, you see, we have a very positive Impression about PH-Soccer. Of course, not the same europe, but its starting up. Btw: 70% of our guests were pinoy, the rest foreigners from England, Germany, CH, Iran, Egypt, Kenya, Spain, Netherlands and many more. Pls watch http://www.events4public.com and on YouTube under…public viewing dumaguete… regards Jorg

        • Jonny Lis

          Wow that’s fantastic to hear – I hope the rest of the Philippines would adopt the same level of interest as Negros. Since writing the post I did actually play with some work colleagues against a random team. The standard wasn’t great but everyone really enjoyed themselves.

          One issue though is that there’s very little access to the games – they’re only available on subscription only ‘BeIN Sport’ channels, whereas the basketball channel comes as standard. Maybe if they actually showed the regular season games on Balls it might help when there is no international tournament on.

  • Alex

    Okay Jonny. World Cup for England is over so maybe I can put in a words. How about putting GPS on the boot of the English strikers, esp that guy Sturidge. I don’t think England got one in.

    You’re right about basketball and Filipinos. Reminds me of an old movie, White Men Can’t Jump with Woody Harrelson. But basketball in the Philippines has had its saving grace – 4th in one Olympics (Berlin I think), and even once 5th in the world championships in the 50s. But tall countries learned how to dribble, run and shoot and that was the end for the Philippines.

    Football trivia, Philippines as of last month is ranked 126 by Fifa, higher than Thailand, Malaysia and the rest. That’;s for beating Palestine and Turkhmenistan. Whoopee…plus as you pointed out they have the best looking players. And they don’t bite in spite of their team name.

    Handegg trivia. Apparently, the actual play time in American football amounts to only like 12 minutes. That’s according to a survey. They tend to stop a lot.

    Do you know Anne Coulter? She’s the American motor mouth etc etc… She writes about the growing popularity of soccer in the US. It’s a good ridiculous read.

    http://www.clarionledger.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/06/25/coulter-growing-interest-soccer-sign-nations-moral-decay/11372137/

    Alex

    • Jonny Lis

      Hi Alex,

      I was already aware of that article but in all honesty I refuse to read it as im sure it will just make me mad. Having said that, I read recently that the NBA finals in the US had 15m viewers whereas the USA vs Ghana match had 24m viewers in the US so undoubtedly football is growing in popularity over there.

      Yeah not much playing time in hand egg, plus it goes on for 4 hours just for one game! I still think it’s a good sport though and I enjoy how tactical it is and the immense physical power of the athletes that play it, but it’s more that I don’t think it should be called football.

      In terms of England – they scored 2 goals in the three games (one from Sturridge) – I don’t think it’s a shooting issue as much as a team issue. A lot of the players play in different positions/with different players for their club teams and we’re in a transitional phase with a lot of young players about to come through but a few old players who need to retire, and average players who are in the team because there’s no alternative, so next tournament we should be much better.

      Well yeah 126th isn’t too bad I guess but when you consider that there are countries with a population of 1m people that have a football team in the world cup, it should be possible for the Philippines with 90m people (and growing) that they could produce a team that could compete on that level.

      For me though basketball will always be an American sport for very tall guys, whereas I see football as a world sport which anyone can play.

      • Alex

        Hi Johnny,

        I lied PH is 129th, and lost to Palestine! You forgot to mention Philip Lahm, 5’4″, Mr. Reliable of the German team. He is an inspiration for vertically challenged folks. Instead of Anne Coulter, how about this – the highest scorer Barcelona FC before Lionel Messi broke his record:
        http://www.fcbarcelona.com/club/history/detail/card/paulino-alcantara
        All in all it has been an interesting World Cup, unpredictable.
        Cheers, next time for England…Alex

  • Eric Van Buskirk

    You’ve outdone yourself again. Fun to read and new non-recycled ideas about Cebu. Keep up the stellar work. Like the the “hand” and “egg” and I’m from US.

    • Jonny Lis

      Thank again Eric! Yeah I try to be original where possible, glad you liked it!

  • Steve Taylor

    Hi John. Just stumbled upon your blog. Best on the Philippines I’ve come across in two years, especially the the food. Nice one! Makes a change reading about a younger guy in the Fils for a change:)

    • Jonny Lis

      Thanks a lot Steve! That means a lot as there are loads of blogs on the Philippines as well – I’ll try and write some more posts on food soon. I’ve been debating the idea of recording a video of myself eating balut and uploading it to the blog, although would probably need some ‘dutch courage’ if I’m going to attempt that! Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to write about in particular.

      • Steve Taylor

        Yes Balut! I’ve eaten some weird stuff in the past in Thailand &
        China but that’s going to be a challenge. I’m due to visit for
        the
        first time this Christmas. A local girl I’ve been chatting to says it’s
        her favourite delicacy which seems strange for a girl. She also said
        that they are only sold late at night? Maybe that’s because everyone is
        drunk! I’m hungry for
        anything to do with the Philippines, especially
        every day hum drum. I intend to make Cebu my home if I like it. I’m
        English too, from Surrey originally, I’ve been living on Ibiza for
        fourteen years & there doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference in
        culture & services from what I’ve been reading, it’s the Spanish
        influence I guess, shame they didn’t pick the best bits out of the
        American “occupation” :)

        I’ve read around fourteen books now off
        of Amazon, mainly amateur expat writers but they do give you an insight
        in what to expect, what offends, losing face, the squalor, the
        corruption etc as well as the good bits obviously. Best one was “Culture
        Shock”, The bloke is hilarious. It seems a mine field to be honest. The
        last book was about starting or running a business in the Fils, I’d
        definitely give that one a miss. My main
        concern is going to be
        internet speeds, it’s part of everyday life nowadays & I’d prefer to
        be outside of the city. It took 9 yrs to get a decent speed here. I
        like my film downloads & Netflix etc. Have you tried Bohol?

        Anyhow,nice one. Next topic, driving?

  • Digifrost

    Hi,

    You might want to check out Time Out Restaurant & Bar on Ramos. I am pretty sure they have Football (Soccer) amongst all other sports (NHL,NBA,NFL,MLB,AFL,Rugby League, etc…).

    • Jonny Lis

      Yeah sure – this list isn’t comprehensive by any means and I’m sure there are other bars that show games. I’ll check out Time Out sometime as well.

      Thanks

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