by Umaid Wasim
KARACHI: In a move that would seemingly prolong Pakistan football’s suffering, the executive committee of the Asia’s football governing body wants to extend the mandate of the Faisal Saleh Hayat-led Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) faction by two years.
Hayat’s PFF had been given a two-year mandate by football’s world governing body FIFA back in September 2015 following disputed elections of the PFF in June that year.
FIFA had asked the Hayat group to ratify its statutes and hold fresh elections at the end of that term.
But the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) executive committee, which met in Manama on Sunday ahead of this week’s FIFA Congress in Bahraini capital, has said it will request FIFA to extend that mandate till June 2019.
The case is currently being heard at the Lahore High Court (LHC) on the direction of the Supreme Court.
“The Executive Committee agreed to the Member Association Task Force recommendation that a request should be made to FIFA to extend the current mandate to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) to June 2019 so that meaningful reforms can be undertaken and that FIFA and the AFC hold a joint revision workshop for PFF stakeholders,” the AFC said in a news release on Sunday.
A joint revision workshop, it seems, will see officials of both factions of the PFF.
After a controversial election of the Punjab Football Association (PFA) in April 2015, the PFF broke into two factions heading into its presidential poll in June.
With both factions heading into elections, the LHC intervened and ordered a stay on the elections but the Hayat group went ahead and conducted the election in the presence of an AFC observer.
It was a move that saw the LHC appoint an administrator to control the PFF affairs until the matter is resolved.
The Hayat group, meanwhile, took the step of withdrawing the national teams from all FIFA and AFC competitions while contesting a case in the LHC that it should be given control of the PFF.
“The Executive Committee also agreed that a high-level delegation should meet the Pakistani government and apprise them of the severe consequences of external interference and the Executive Committee reiterated its position of opposition to government interference in the running of the sport,” added the AFC.
The Pakistan football case has dragged on with the sport in the country suffering as the AFC and FIFA are yet to take any drastic action despite the Hayat faction repeatedly threatening a looming FIFA ban over the last couple of years.
A ban usually sees an interim set-up come into force and football continues but insiders told Dawn that hasn’t materialised partly because that will see fresh elections and that could be anyone’s game.
FIFA, in the past, has acted swiftly with bans in other countries to what it terms as ‘interference’ in sport.
Yet, with the Pakistan case, it has been guarded against any drastic step.
“FIFA is aware of the recent decision in the litigation case involving the PFF in Pakistan and is monitoring the situation with them,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn in February, days after the Hayat faction wrongly claimed it had got a decision in its favour at the LHC.
FIFA usually doesn’t take court decisions into account but despite football having come to a standstill in the country with a court-appointed administrator running PFF affairs, its silence is questionable.
World football insiders, however, told Dawn that FIFA action comes once the country’s apex court has made a decision. In Pakistan, the PFF case has been directed by the Supreme Court to the LHC for a final decision.