By ANISUDDIN KHAN [The Nation]
KARACHI – Though the quadrennial elections of the Pakistan Football Federation is over six months away but things have already started hotting up as reliable news circulating in football circles indicate that a popular leader of the ruling PPP may challenge incumbent Faisal Saleh Hayat for the top job of the federation in election due in coming mid year.
The Congress of the PFF is due to meet in Lahore on December 27 to discuss various issues including chalking out plans to start the election process which will be completed with the election of the president PFF some time in July/August. The process of election will begin coming March with elections of district football associations followed by provincial elections some time in July/August. Once this process is completed the PFF elections would be held immediately.
PPP has always been passionate about football which it has seen as poor men’s sports and also because it with boxing is the game of Lyari which is party’s strong hold since 1970 elections. When ever football elections had fallen in the tenure of the PPP government, the party supporters of the sport had gone for a PPP person as the head of the body. Abdul Sattar Gabol, a popular leader of the PPP from Lyari was installed head of the PFF soon after PPP formed government in the aftermath of the 1970 national elections.
The PFF elections are again falling in the tenure of the PPP government and the chances are that the party workers would go all out to get one of their party person as president of the PFF. One name that is circulating in football circles who is expected to jump in the fray and challenge Faisal Saleh Hayat, is Jahangir Badar a senior PPP leader from Lahore. A football organizer from Lyari when contacted to comment on this the hot rumours of the PPP leader joining the race for the PFF top position said, he could not confirm or deny it but could only say that there would be a person from the PPP in coming elections. As Faisal Saleh Hayat belong to PML (Q), he may face opposition from the PPP because of the political rivalry between the two parties unless the two rival political forces join the process of reconciliation which is the fashion of the day.
The rumour of a PPP person joining the football race is taken with glee by football organisers and clubs and departments and some provincial associations who have spoken though indirectly about a change of guard at the PFF. They had alleged in their private conversation how Faisal Saleh Hayat had allegedly arbitrarily ruled the PFF for the last eight years ignoring the constitution which they alleged demand due process of consultation in running the PFF.
They quote the example of Nasir Karim of the Karachi District South Football Association who was barred from holding any position in the PFF after he boldly confronted the PFF president about two years ago accusing him of denying Sindh its right. Nasir was not even given a chance to appeal against what he had termed as one person’s decision which carried no legal authority. He left football later. Faisal Saleh Hayat who would complete his second four-year term as chief of the PFF coming year may face first hurdle if the Pakistan Sports Board and the Sports Ministry informs him about the govt sports policy.