by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan’s former football captain Mohammad Essa on Thursday warned that if football conflict was not resolved in the next one month the country’s leading players would begin a country-wide protest after Eid-ul-Fitr for safeguarding their rights.
“We are fed up of the situation. The conflict has jeopardised our future,” Essa told ‘The News’ from his hometown Chaman. “We waited for so long but to no avail. We will launch a vigorous movement after Eid-ul-Fitr if the issue is not resolved,” he said.
Pakistan’s football has been inactive because of a conflict between two factions of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).
The two factions are fighting several cases in courts.
Pakistan have missed quite a few international events since April last year and there was no Premier League last season at home.
The league is in jeopardy again this season.
“This is hurting 25,000 players. Besides having missed international events during the last 13 months we also missed the Premier League which is a source of income for us. Now we are unable to run our houses through the meagre salaries we get. Our condition is pathetic. We request the courts to resolve the issue as soon as possible and protect us from further miseries,” said Essa, the skipper of K-Electric who last season featured in the AFC Cup qualifiers.
“Our plan of action is simple. We will hold press conferences, protest demonstrations and sit-ins in different cities of the country, including Islamabad. Our protest will be countrywide and we hope that we will be able to protect our rights,” Essa said.
In order to resolve the issue FIFA sent a three-member fact-finding mission to Lahore in August last year.
It met with the representatives of both parties and submitted its report with the FIFA.
In September last year FIFA executive committee gave two years to the Faisal Saleh Hayat-led PFF to revise its constitution and hold the PFF elections afresh.
But FIFA’s decision could not be implemented because of the litigation.
The LHC has suspended the PFF’s June 30, 2015, elections and appointed former justice Asad Muneer as PFF administrator.
The PFF headquarters in Lahore are in the possession of Faisal’s rival group led by former Punjab Football Association (PFA) president Arshad Lodhi.
Essa said Pakistan’s ranking had come down because of the issue. “Pakistan’s ranking has slipped to 192 because we are unable to feature in international events,” he said.
“Our players had started getting places in foreign leagues but for the last one year no one has got a chance,” said Essa, who has also done AFC License B coaching course.
Essa said the players had lost their fitness because they were inactive.
He said departments would disband their teams if the issue was not resolved. “That would deprive thousands of players of their jobs. Who would hire the players then?” Essa said.
He said every player was ready to become part of the movement. “We will launch our campaign before our second successive Premier League is affected,” Essa added.