by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: National footballers are considering forming a players’ association’ in a bid to force Pakistan’s warring football factions to resolve the conflict which has damaged the game since April 2015.
“Enough is enough. We cannot wait any more and are trying to form an association which will safeguard the rights of the players,” a seasoned player told ‘The News’ on Friday.
“The two factions of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) are working for their own vested interests. They don’t care for the players’ interests and are playing with their careers. It is time for a vigorous campaign to protect our future,” the player said.
“We will weigh all options how to form and run the association. We can build a huge strength which will be unstoppable when it comes out,” he said.
“In countries like Pakistan where media don’t give due coverage to football such an association is extremely important,” he said.
“We can stage a sit-in in front of the Parliament House or the Supreme Court. We will work within limits to protect our rights,” the player said.
Since April 2015 no major football activity has happened in Pakistan because of the tussle between the two groups of the PFF.
The controversial elections of Punjab Football Association (PFA) early last year started the crisis.
Following the PFA elections the differences deepened and a long litigation process began which is yet to end.
The PFF slapped 20 members of the PFA with a lengthy ban that infuriated the rival group which convened an extraordinary congress in Islamabad in June 2015. In the congress the PFF chief Faisal Saleh Hayat was suspended and the services of secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi were terminated.
The congress made Arshad Lodhi and Col Farasat Ali Shah acting PFF president and secretary, respectively.
After a few days the same group occupied the PFF headquarters in Lahore and retains the possession till date.
The PFF held its elections on June 30, 2015, at Changla Gali despite the LHC stay order which was issued on June 29 on the petition of Arshad Lodhi group.
Faisal was elected for the fourth successive term as PFF chief in the elections, also observed by a representative of Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
The rival group then also initiated a contempt of court case against Faisal and his crew. The LHC, after a few hearings, declared the June 30, 2015, PFF elections “null and void” and appointed former justice Asad Muneer as PFF administrator.
FIFA sent a three-member fact-finding mission to Lahore in early August 2015. The mission held marathon meetings with both the parties and submitted its report to FIFA.
FIFA’s Executive Committee in September opted to give two years to Faisal group, asking it to revise the constitution and hold the PFF elections afresh.
The last year Pakistan missed several international events. The domestic premier league could not be held because of the dispute. The players had to face huge monetary loss and they say that it is now very difficult for them to live with dignity.
Most of the bright footballers failed to find a place in foreign leagues because their exposure suffered due to the dispute.
If the issue is not resolved promptly, FIFA may impose sanctions on Pakistan, which will be a catastrophe for the footballers.