By Umaid Wasim
KARACHI: The crisis and controversy within the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) continues.
Despite Lahore High Court (LHC) issuing a stay order on Monday against the disputed PFF elections of its two factions, the one led by Faisal Saleh Hayat nevertheless carried on with the polls in Changla Gali and elected him for a fourth term as president.
The move will only add fuel to fire which is already raging inside the PFF.
The other faction suspended Hayat for “embezzlement of funds and incompetence” during an Extraordinary Congress two weeks ago and is led by interim president Arshad Khan Lodhi.
Arshad was due to hold the elections in Lahore but a spokesman of his side instead told Dawn that they had “obeyed LHC’s orders and decided not to go ahead with the elections”.
A copy of the court’s order, meanwhile, was made available with Dawn on Tuesday which asked both the disputing parties to attend a hearing on July 6 whilst issuing a stay on the elections.
A spokesman of the Hayat faction, meanwhile, said none of its officials had received the court orders. “We did not receive the court’s orders and therefore we went ahead with the elections,” he said. “An observer from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Sanjeevan Balasinggam was also present at the elections and the elections were held under AFC and FIFA rules.”
When asked if the AFC observer knew about the court’s orders, the spokesman replied: “He was of course told that we did not receive a copy of the order by the LHC so he decided to go ahead with the elections.”
The other faction questioned the legality of the elections, claiming 2/3rd of the votes need to be polled at the elections to decide the winner.
Hayat’s party, meanwhile, claimed they had 11 of 20 members of the Congress with themselves before electing three women members, taking their strength to 14.
“The house was of 23 due to three departments having failed to send their nominations for the Congress in time,” said their spokesman.
Hayat’s PFF set a deadline to send the nominations on April 22 despite the PFF constitution claiming that it is May 15.
It raised furore amongst the opposition camp, with Zahir Ali Shah the only other candidate in the elections writing to FIFA about the decision. There was no response from FIFA, however.
Even the AFC asked the PFF to clarify on the dispute on the numbers of the Congress.
“We had three members each from Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan, one from Islamabad and the women’s wing,” added the spokesman. “We then elected three women members.”
The election of three women members was another issue raised by the rival body with that change in the Congress drawing the ire of FIFA who advised the PFF against doing so.
Earlier, those votes belonged to Young Rising Star WFC, Diya WFA and the deputy chairperson of the women’s wing.
The constitutional change was even shot down by the PFF Congress meeting in November — the agenda and decisions of which are available with Dawn.
The dispute in the PFF began with the controversial elections of the Punjab Football Association (PFA) before the Extraordinary Congress suspended Hayat and seized control of the PFF headquarters.
At the PFA elections, six members of Arshad’s group were suspended by the PFF’s Disciplinary Committee — the composition of which is a violation of its own constitution.
The PFF constitution states that the members of the disciplinary committee can’t be members of the PFF Congress.
However, it is led by Jan Mohammad Marri, who is a congress member from Balochistan.
Following the suspension, Arshad’s group protested and after the PFF announced the elections had been postponed, they later elected Sardar Naveed Haider Khan as president. By that time Arshad and his supporters had left the venue.
The PFA elections were one of several issues the LHC said needed to be solved before the elections. And the rival body claimed that the elections held on Tuesday were a case of “contempt of court”.
“What they’ve done here is that they’ve shown that they don’t respect the law of the land,” a spokesman of the rival body said. “I’m still surprised how they were unable to get the Court’s orders when their representatives were there at the LHC on Monday.
“Even AFC and FIFA rules stipulate that their member associations have to first follow the law of the land.”