by Umaid Wasim
KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) marketing consultant Sardar Naveed Haider Khan on Wednesday submitted his nomination papers for the upcoming presidency elections of the Punjab Football Association (PFA) which is expected to see a tough fight between him and a government-backed candidate.
First, though, he wanted to dispel the notion that he was ineligible to run for the provincial hot-seat because of his involvement with the PFF.
“I’m not on the payroll of the PFF and I serve merely as a consultant for marketing and sponsorships,” Sardar Naveed told Dawn after submitting his nomination papers to the provincial election commissioner.
Sardar Naveed is expected to have Noor Haider Niazi and incumbent president Arshad Khan Lodhi as rivals. While former Mianwali MPA Noor has family ties with PML-N, the country’s ruling party, Arshad is a member of the parliament from the same party.
Well-informed sources told Dawn on Tuesday that although Arshad’s representatives have taken the nomination papers, he might be forced to stand down in favour of Noor.
Sardar Naveed, however, is calm. He claims he has support from “28 out of 35 district representatives [who will vote]” as he laid out his manifesto for the presidency.
“I have the requisite experience for this job as I’ve been heavily involved in the game over the last eight years,” he said. “I’m confident about my chances.
“As PFA president, I’d first of all like to set up an office since the present setup lacks that and then I’d like to work on developing the game on grassroots level in the country’s largest province which I believe can give a lot to football.
“Unfortunately the last few regimes have failed to do so and I want to change football in the province overall.”
Sardar claimed the tactics of his rivals are “damaging for the country’s image” with reports that the government is forcing district association heads from the region to vote for their candidate.
ALI NAWAZ ‘50-50’ FOR SFA
While the battle for the PFA is intensifying, the presidential elections for Sindh Football Association (SFA) are likely to see incumbent Syed Khadim Ali Shah retain his seat.
Former Pakistan striker Ali Nawaz, hailed as one of the country’s greatest players, was expected to run against Khadim but he said he was going to decide “in the next few days” about his presidential bid.
“I’m still 50-50 about running for the post,” he told Dawn on Wednesday. “We still have two days to submit the nomination papers so if I gather the requisite support from the districts, I might run.
“My aim [if I were to run for presidency] would be to change how football is run in the province and make it more professional.”
The last date for submission of the nomination papers is Friday, said a PFF news release on Wednesday.
“The election will be held in a free, fair and transparent manner in accordance with the FIFA/AFC and PFF statutes/election rules and directives,” it added.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), another former international striker Gohar Zaman, the only Pakistani player to have scored an international hat-trick, was being tipped to run against current KPFA chief Syed Zahir Shah.
But having lost to Zahir’s relative Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah in the district football association elections for Peshawar, he’s unlikely to announce a provincial presidency bid.
Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2015