by Mohsin Ali
ISLAMABAD – FIFA-backed Pakistan Football Federation president Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat Saturday termed Pakistan suspension by FIFA the worst day of his life and held government responsible for inviting FIFA’s wrath.
Talking to The Nation on Saturday, he said despite being political differences with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif he wrote him letters and asked him to stop his family members for interfering in the PFF affairs as FIFA articles clearly mentioned no third party, political/government interference, but he never paid heed and his family members continued to invite trouble. “It was because of me that FIFA waited for two long years. Otherwise, they never tolerate such things. The history tells us that top football playing nations including powerhouses like Saudi Arabia, France, Nigeria, Iran, India and others were suspended by FIFA on interferences.”
He said his opponents leveled false charges of financial embezzlement against him. He said FIFA never tolerated corruption even banned former UEFA president Michel Platini, and FIFA president Sepp Blatter and they would have never spared him if he was involved in corruption. He said he had worked for the betterment of Pakistan soccer and that paid great dividend for Pakistan footballers as number of players including Kaleem Ullah, Saddam, M Ali and others as well as female players got international league contracts. “I paid special attention towards improving life-style of footballers, who were getting peanuts prior. When I took over, there was not a single A licence FIFA referee in Pakistan. I worked on that and now not only 5 A, but dozens of B licence holder referees are available and we also have a pro-licence holder referee as well.”
Faisal said they had held the PFF elections as per FIFA rules in the presence of FIFA representatives who monitored the elections and then sent their report to FIFA. “We first conducted elections on divisional level followed by provincial level elections and in the third stage the federation elections had been conducted. The divisional and provincial level elections in 2015 were smoothly conducted with only exception of Punjab, where government wanted Sharif family relative Noor Niazi to become president. Upon his failure, PML-N workers ransacked Football House and took forced possession.”
He claimed that he had managed to take Pakistan football team to new heights as Pakistan won series against much high ranked teams including India and Afghanistan. “I managed to conduct first-ever SAAF Women Football Championship 2014 and Indian team also participated along with eight international countries. I managed to allocate eight FIFA goal programmes worth Rs500 million out of which Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar and Abbottabad projects are completed. Let me share one thing that FIFA doesn’t gave cash to the PFF, instead they make all arrangements and under their supervision all these projects had been completed while Karachi, Jacobabad and Sukkar projects are under construction. I had worked with Korean federation and they agreed to allocate $400,000 for football infrastructure at Jhang. I met with DC for allotment of land where the set up to be established, he promised and I sent the details to Koreans, who released $400,000, which is still in the PFF accounts.”
He said due to the suspension, Pakistan may also lose the right to host the World Cup 2018 trophy tour in March next.
He also criticized IPC Minister Mian Riaz for suggesting the PFF didn’t send audit report to the PSB despite the fact that the PSB and government had not been giving a single penny financial assistance to the PFF for last 5 years. “We are bound to conduct audit under FIFA directives from highly reputed firm. We sent a copy each to POA, PSB and FIFA and IPC Minister must first check with then PSB before issuing statements.