KARACHI: All eyes are on FIFA’s Associations Member Committee which convenes on Monday to discuss the fate of Pakistan football after politics within the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) plagued the sport in the nation.
A bleak history
A group led by former PFF Director and PFF electoral committee secretary Colonel (retd) Farasat Ali Shah and Arshad Lodhi decided to go against the existing set-up following the Punjab Football Association (PFA) elections in April, claiming that the elections never took place and Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat, the current PFF president, had just selected former PFF director marketing Sardar Naveed as the president.
The situation further escalated when Hayat held the PFF elections in Changla Gali, Abbottabad on June 30 despite the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) orders to not hold the elections.
The LHC then appointed Justice (retd) Asad Munir as the PFF administrator and gave him the responsibility to take charge of the headquarters and audit the accounts while declaring the PFF elections, which had elected Hayat as the president, null and void.
FIFA, taking notice of the matter, sent a three-member committee on a ‘fact-finding mission’ to Lahore in July. The committee, after gathering information, set September 21 as the date for a resolution.
Hope for an end
“As mentioned previously, matters related to the recent fact-finding mission in Pakistan will be discussed during the next Associations Committee meeting on September21. We have no further comment for the time-being,” read a FIFA statement.
With the PFF inactive and embroiled in turmoil, the only victim has been the sport of football and all its stakeholders as Pakistan has missed at least three international events — South Asian U16 Championship, Asian Football Confederation U16 Championship qualifiers and AFC U19 Championship qualifiers — during this time.
Pakistan are also expected to play in the South Asian Football Federation Championship in India in December and, given that the men in green are pitted in Group A and have a match against their arch-rivals, a national camp for the selection and preparation of the team is overdue.
In addition to the international events, the domestic league — the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) — and the inaugural women’s league were also postponed indefinitely.
According to the coach of PPFL runner-ups Army Shafqat Mehmood, the sporting community has no choice but to put faith in FIFA’s decision and hope that some solution is reached. “It’s been a long wait for the FIFA Associations meeting,” Mehmood told The Express Tribune. “We are hoping that FIFA will take a positive decision because, as football players and coaches, we really don’t care who is in the office; all we need is football to happen. It’s been a very long deadlock and we need this to be resolved in the best way possible.”