By Natasha Rahell,
Karachi: The FIFA mission that arrived in Pakistan hoping to resolve the issues plaguing the country’s football has departed without being able to achieve its basic goal of meeting with both parties in a round-table discussion.
The three-member mission, which constitutes of Cyprus FA President Costas Koutsokoumnis, Head of National Associations Primo Corvaro and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) official Si Song Mun, arrived in Lahore on Friday and stayed over the weekend.
The mission met separately with the PFF and the opposing group, led by Arshad Lodhi and Farasat Ali Shah, who pitted PFF vice-president Zahir Ali Shah against Hayat as the federation’s chief.
The FIFA mission has left the country and the bigger problem seems to be the long legal battle at hand. “We’ll be going to the Supreme Court on August 9 to challenge the Lahore High Court order,” a PFF official toldThe Express Tribune. “The meeting with the mission went well. The rival group’s Extra-Ordinary Congress, which was held two weeks before the June 30 elections, was declared null and void by FIFA. We are told that we should be getting the charge of PFF headquarters soon.”
On the other hand, Zahir’s group is hopeful of hearing more from FIFA and also expressed their satisfaction over their meeting with the mission.
“The FIFA mission is fair and we pointed out three things to them; the Punjab Elections were not held according to the PFF constitution, the women seats in the congress were manipulated, and that the three major departments — PIA, HEC and Police — were not a part of the Congress.”
As things stand, Hayat’s faction is still in office given that their last term will end on August 31, but the rival group has reportedly asked the FIFA officials to opt for re-elections.
Looking towards the Administrator
The LHC appointed retired justice Asad Munir as the PFF caretaker administrator to handle their affairs and audit the accounts. Munir was to be paid Rs450,000 per month for four months, during which he has to hold elections.
However, the former judge is not in the country and is expected to return this week after vacationing in Paris, meaning that he didn’t meet with the FIFA officials.
“Munir has a great rapport and is an upright man,” said an official from Zahir’s group. “We are hoping for the order to be processed soon.”
Pakistan’s football community, including both players and coaches, continue to sweat over the sport’s future as both parties refused to meet in order to resolve the matter, despite FIFA’s request to do so.
Hayat reportedly refused to meet Zahir stating that the splinter group took over the PFF house by force in June. “We didn’t sit with them because they were hostile and raided the football house,” said a PFF official.
The rival group, on the other hand, claimed they had no reservations about meeting with the incumbent PFF officials.
“We have full faith in FIFA and the legal system,” said a group official of Zahir. “We want footballing activities to resume and we’ll hold the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) in due time.”
Hayat’s faction is also adamant that they want to resume the sport in the country and hoped that the PPFL will only be postponed and not cancelled for this year.