by Umaid Wasim [Dawn]
KARACHI: A faction of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is not satisfied with the attitude of the members of the FIFA mission which came to Lahore earlier this month in a bid to resolve the crisis engulfing the country’s football governing body, it emerged on Wednesday.
In a letter addressed to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretary general Windsor John, Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi — the secretary of the PFF faction led by Faisal Saleh Hayat — complained of being “utterly disappointed” with the conduct of the FIFA mission.
A copy of that letter was received by Dawn on Wednesday through a well-placed source.
The FIFA mission came in the first few days of August following months of bitter wrangling in the PFF in the lead-up to its June 30 presidential elections which saw a splinter group being formed after an Extraordinary Congress which suspended its president Faisal Saleh Hayat.
Arshad Khan Lodhi took over the interim setup and with two separate bodies of the PFF being formed, the crisis snowballed as the elections neared before the Lahore High Court (LHC) intervened and announced a stay on the polls.
While the Arshad group refrained from holding the elections, the Hayat group went ahead and conducted the polls in Changla Gali in which he was elected president for a fourth term before being issued a contempt notice by the LHC.
The court, meanwhile, appointed an administrator for the PFF — Justice Asad Munir — who has since taken over the affairs at the PFF headquarters in Lahore.
The PFF headquarters had been taken over by the Arshad-led PFF faction following the Extraordinary Congress and world’s football governing body FIFA sent a fact-finding mission which speak to both conflicting parties on August 1 and 2.
The mission was led by Cyprus FA President Costas Koutsokoumnis, also a member of the FIFA Associations Committee, and had two other members: FIFA’s head of member associations Primo Corvaro and Si Song Mun — a member of the AFC member associations committee.
And while the letter by Lodhi didn’t show any objections to Koutsokoumnis’ conduct, it held several reservations to the attitude of Si and Corvaro.
“This is to inform you that we are utterly disappointed with the conduct and negative attitude of Mr Si Song Mun and the negative mindset and pre-conceived biased agenda of Mr Primo Corvaro,” said the letter.
“Mr Sanjeevan Balasingam, AFC’s Director Member Associations, was the official observer of the AFC/FIFA at the PFF elections in Changla Gali. His report clearly endorsed the PFF elections and confirmed they were held as per the PFF statutes and the required quorum of eligible voters was in order,” added Lodhi in the letter dated August 4.
“AFC endorsed and validated these elections and the AFC president, acting secretary general and executive committee members congratulated Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat on his victory.”
The AFC, in a generic message, seen by Dawn had congratulated Hayat but later retracted after it was told about the court order and said the elections had to be held “in accordance with national law and AFC/FIFA statutes”.
The issue over the voters was one of the reasons for the split in the PFF with the elections in Changla Gali seeing 11 Congress members out of 26 before three were elected to raise the house to 14.
In a move which seems to gain sympathy or possibly seeking an influence from the AFC on the FIFA decision, the PFF went on to say that the FIFA mission “for all practical purposes was totally a one-sided affair”.
A FIFA spokesperson told Dawn on Monday that the “matter is due to be discussed in the next Associations Committee meeting on Sept 21”.
FIFA’s Associations Committee, led by UEFA’s vice-president Senez Erzik of Turkey, deals with relations between FIFA and its members and draws up proposals for optimum cooperation. The committee also monitors the evolution of the statutes and regulations of FIFA, the confederations and members.
“The FIFA mission for all practical purposes was totally one-sided affair with Mr Mun either opting to remain aloof and quiet or siding with Mr Corvaro in negating and contradicting his parent body AFC,” said Lodhi in the letter.
“To our utter shock he contradicted and opposed the clear policy and decisions of AFC. It was astonishing that he repudiated and challenged the election report of his immediate superior, Mr Balasingam.”
The allegation of siding with the other party didn’t end with Si.
“Mr Corvaro came with a biased mindset and a pre-conceived agenda which he tried his best to hoist upon us and influence the other members of the mission,” the letter added. “It was clearly evident he was in the league with the other faction.
“He was clearly shown the proofs of the illegal and immoral actions of the rivals but he was completely unmoved. His demeanour and behaviour was not only shockingly biased but also against existing FIFA/AFC norms and codes.”
The letter added that the mission did not delve into the details of the occupation of the PFF House by the rival faction.
“We wish to lodge a strong protest against Mr Mun for undermining AFC and subordination of his superiors and also against Mr Corvaro for being biased and openly flaunting the FIFA code,” concluded the letter which was also copied to Balasingam.
Earlier, the Hayat faction had claimed in local media that they had come out as victors following the meetings with the FIFA mission. However, the letter points to things differently.
The AFC, meanwhile, announced it had inducted Khalid Latif and Rubina Irfan — members of the Hayat faction — into its standing committees on Wednesday.
Asia’s football governing body did not comment to Dawn when asked about Lodhi’s letter to its secretary general.
The PFF spokesperson, when approached for comments on the letter, initially told Dawn that he would get back soon. However, till the filing of this report, no comment whatsoever were given by the PFF on the matter.