by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: The Pakistan football Federation (PFF), despite the shambolic state of its affairs, has managed to secure what seems like an unconditional backing from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in its case to get the incumbent regime a fresh tenure.
The football governing body has been in turmoil for the past two years due to infighting stemming from allegations of financial corruption and election rigging against its long-time president Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat.
During this time, the PFF has failed to hold its top-flight leagues and has also been unable to send its national teams to a series of major tournaments.
Hayat, who has held the PFF office since 2003, was last given a two-year tenure by FIFA in 2015 so that he could update the federation’s constitution and hold elections in 2017.
However, nearly two years on, the statutes remain unfixed, thanks in part to the emergence of a rival faction within the PFF which has led to a lengthy legal wrangling, but also due to sheer incompetence on the current office-bearers’ part.
It seems the Beautiful Game’s trials and tribulations in Pakistan are far from over as now AFC has entered the fray, asking FIFA to grant Hayat a fresh term to fix what he hasn’t in 14 years.
Earlier this month, the AFC Executive Committee met in Manama to discuss the matter, with the AFC secretary later writing a letter to FIFA in favour of Hayat.
“An official request has been made from AFC to FIFA to extend the current mandate of the PFF to June 2019 so that meaningful reforms can take place,” read an excerpt of the letter shared in a PFF press release.
According to former national coach Tariq Lutfi, AFC’s backing of Hayat over his extension request will only damage football in Pakistan.
“AFC shouldn’t be biased,” Lutfi told The Express Tribune. “Nothing good can come out of it as a free and fair election is the only way to go. They had two years to revise the PFF statutes, why didn’t they do it? Why didn’t they revise them even before the 2015 debacle? This politics has destroyed football.
“Hayat’s administration didn’t establish academies, did not give voting right to the departments who pitted teams in the Pakistan Premier Football League and Division B leagues; these were ere the real stakeholders.”
PPFL referee Shakoor Baloch concurs, saying that AFC’s recommendation is violating the basic rights of football.
“AFC is recommending an extension for Hayat because he has friends there,” said Baloch. “It is not a good recommendation. The domestic football has been in shambles. This is not right; PFF can’t be run by Hayat with court cases on. We need a solution, and a fair election is the only right one.”