By Umaid Wasim,
KARACHI: Four days after issuing what seemed to be a congratulatory message to Faisal Saleh Hayat for being re-elected as the president of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) retracted to a previous statement.
Hayat held elections of his faction of the PFF in Changla Gali on June 30 in which he was elected as the president despite a stay order issued by the Lahore High Court (LHC), a day earlier, against holding the polls.
The LHC order came after another group in the PFF, which had suspended Hayat through an Extraordinary Congress, was also due to hold its own elections on the same day in Lahore.
That group, led by Arshad Khan Lodhi, did not hold the polls but Hayat went on with the election process claiming he did not receive the court’s orders with an observer from Asia’s football governing body, Sanjeevan Balasinggam, also present.
“Please accept my sincere congratulations and best wishes on your re-election as president of the PFF. Your re-election is a testimony of the faith and the confidence the football family had in your ability,” AFC chief Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa told Hayat in a message on Thursday, which was released by the PFF to local media.
“As AFC president and your representative in FIFA, I assure you of the full AFC support for your efforts to uncover the true potential of this beautiful game in your country.”
On Monday, however, Hayat was issued a contempt of court notice by the LHC for violating the court orders.
With the PFF having earlier claimed that its elections had been approved by AFC, the Asian body was asked by Dawn on the status of the elections and whether it should have followed the law of the land — in this case, Pakistan — to which it reverted to a statement it issued on June 24.
“The AFC supports the democratically and legally elected PFF executive committee, and condemns any form of unsporting manoeuvre whether this is against FIFA, AFC or PFF statutes, or against national law,” it had said then, and repeated that on Monday.
With Hayat’s elections held against national law, it seems that the AFC has now backtracked on its earlier congratulatory message. Dawn asked the AFC about the letter but did not receive any reply till the filing of this report.
A copy of the AFC message to Hayat was also sent to FIFA but a spokesperson of the world’s football governing body told Dawn: “FIFA has no comment on the matter.”
The spokesperson had earlier told Dawn that FIFA had “not been officially notified by the PFF” regarding the elections.