by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: Pakistan’s top striker and Tulsa Roughnecks player Kaleemullah fears a ban by FIFA on Pakistan if the current situation with the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) continues.
The 23-year-old Chaman-based player believes that the PFF’s matters should be resolved as early as possible by the government before the international governing body places a ban on the country which will leave players with an uncertain future.
“The lazy and lengthy legal battle between the two [opposing factions within the PFF] will only waste talent and the player’s time,” said Kaleemullah while talking to The Express Tribune. “These players are already finding it difficult to pursue the sport they love. If the ban is placed, then they will lose their livelihood.”
Last year, the PFF had been split between two groups, incumbent president Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat’s and his opponents led by Arshad Lodhi and Farasat Ali Shah.
Even with a change in administration, there will be no new PFF considering all of the officials involved have worked together in the same system for more than 12 years.
“The two factions have got nothing to do with football; none of them have been footballers or professionals in any sport,” said Kaleemullah. “It’s reduced to political struggle. And players are already not featuring in any events abroad and the Pakistan Premier Football League isn’t taking place either. It is almost as if we are going through a sanction already, without the ban itself.”
Kaleemullah urged that it would be best for the courts to fast-track PFF’s case or to leave the matter alone, giving Hayat the two years given by FIFA to hold elections. “We can only appeal to the government and the courts. Alternatively, considering Hayat has stayed in office for the past 13 years, and FIFA has given him two more, we might as well just go along with it instead of pursuing the case in court.”
Kaleemullah’s views align with those of his former KRL teammates Saddam Hussain, Mohammad Adil and Saadullah, who also agree that a ban will only make it more difficult for players to sign contracts at clubs abroad.
Meanwhile, former Nigerian player Emeka Aliewa, who is the current coach of the Mescon Islamabad Football Academy, believes it will be the players who are at a disadvantage.
“You see, everyone will eventually leave,” said Aliewa, who is aware of the consequences of a ban. “In case of a ban a lot of things are taken away from the players anyway, what are they going to do?”