By Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan’s senior football team players have stressed that the conflict between the two factions of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) should be resolved as soon as possible.
“The conflict has dented our future. Through consistent international exposure we were not only learning but were also earning enough,” a key international player told ‘The News’ on Thursday. “The issue has put us in deep trouble and has put our careers in jeopardy.
“You know the national league is also in danger. Pakistan missed a couple of key international age-group events. And we are not sure if we will be able to feature in the SAFF Cup and South Asian Games in India in the next few months,” the player said.
He requested the judiciary for early resolution of the issue which would help keep intact the social prestige of the players.
Another player said that sports should not be politicised. “The politics in sports has been damaging not only football but other sports as well. Those involved in the conflict should think of the future of footballers and their families,” said the player, who has played a major role in Pakistan’s achievements in recent years.
Another player said that the government should stop interfering in football as it would lead to sanctions from FIFA. “FIFA has already given a clear message that it will impose sanctions on Pakistan if they do not follow its rules,” the player said.
“Football suffered a great deal during the last eight months. There is a need to start the league. The events in India are very important and should not be missed,” he said.
“Football has emerged as the second most popular game in Pakistan. Several departments have their teams and a few players also play in foreign leagues,” the player added.
FIFA last month, through a letter to Faisal Saleh Hayat-led PFF, gave a clear indication that it does not accept the appointment of an administrator which it deems third party interference.
Lahore High Court (LHC) has appointed former justice Asad Muneer as administrator and declared the June 30 elections null and void.
He has been given the responsibility to conduct audit of PFF accounts and hold its elections.
FIFA in its letter also instructed the PFF to let the rival group know about its stance and warned that the PFF might be suspended if FIFA rules were not followed.
FIFA also mentioned in its letter that Faisal-led PFF would be given two years to revise its statutes, reform its judicial bodies and hold fresh elections.
Pakistan’s issue was discussed in the FIFA’s national associations committee meeting on September 21 and its executive committee meeting on September 24 and 25 in Zurich.
In early August a three-member FIFA fact-finding mission visited Lahore to investigate the matter.
Now all eyes are set on the LHC which is handling a handful of cases of both the factions. A hearing will also be held on Friday (today).
Renowned lawyer Asma Jehangir will head the legal team of Faisal-led PFF, while Arshad Lodhi group is being defended by its legal counsel Kalim Ilyas.
Sources said that Faisal’s group had been given boost by FIFA. They said if the LHC’s decision went against Faisal group, it would go to Supreme Court.