By Alam Zeb Safi,
KARACHI: After holding a series of meetings with Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and its rival group led by Syed Zahir Shah, the ball now is in FIFA’s court.
FIFA’s delegation might have found out the ailment causing the long-standing dispute which is adversely affecting football in the country.
Because of several complications FIFA will have to resolve the matter more deftly even if it is at the cost of time.
FIFA’s delegation, which returned late Sunday night, was headed by FIFA Associations Committee and Cyprus FA President Costas Koutsokoumnis.
The head of National Associations of FIFA Primo Corvaro and the AFC Director Member Associations Si Song Mun were its other members. They held a series of meetings with a group led by PFF president Faisal Saleh Hayat and the other group led by Syed Zahir Shah. Shah was set to contest elections for the PFF’s presidency in June against Faisal but the subsequent restraining order of the court changed the whole scenario. Faisal’s group held its elections on June 30 despite the court’s order and was re-elected for the fourth successive time.
However, sources in both groups are confident that they would emerge victorious in the end. After a series of talks with sources in both the groups, this correspondent has deduced that FIFA would think twice before taking any decision.
Sources said that the occupation of the PFF secretariat and holding of PFF extraordinary congress are the two factors which may go against the Zahir Shah group. Sources said that FIFA’s delegation has questioned the legality of the extraordinary congress in which rules were not strictly followed.
A source in Faisal group said that Shah group was told to withdraw their cases. But a source in Shah group said that they told the delegation that the base of all the subsequent development was the petition of Faisal’s group which it had filed against Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) in 2012 by challenging the tenure-restriction clause of the national sports policy.
Sources in Faisal group said that Shah group was asked to vacate the PFF’s secretariat at Lahore. But a source in Shah group denied this. Sources said that the delegation also seriously interrogated Faisal’s group over Punjab Football Association’s (PFA) elections which is the root of the whole controversy.
Sources said that Faisal, the renowned politician, deftly handled his case while the other group lacked that sort of experts capable enough to mould the case in their favour.
However, a source in Shah group said that the delegation did not endorse the PFF June 30 elections. But the Faisal group is very confident.
“We are very confident,” a source in Faisal group said.
A source said that FIFA’s delegation had a dinner with Faisal Saleh Hayat hours before leaving for Zurich.
Besides FIFA’s timely intervention, resolution of legal matters are also of immense importance.
The Faisal group has also lodged an appeal in the Supreme Court, challenging the maintainability of the petition filed by the rival group in the Lahore High Court (LHC).
On Monday, a FIFA spokesman told ‘The News’ that the mission would report its findings to the relevant FIFA and AFC bodies in due time.