KARACHI: National footballers have expedited their efforts for forming a players association so that they could launch a vigorous movement after Ramazan to force the stakeholders to resolve the issue that has damaged their careers.
“Yes, we are doing our work and after Eid-ul-Fitr you will see not only a ‘players association’ but we will also launch our movement for safeguarding our rights,” a footballer told ‘The News’. “We could have launched protest demonstrations without an association but that would have been dangerous. Taking all these initiatives under a specific body would be more effective,” the player added.
“Every player wants to become part of the movement which will be the first of its kind. We can gather thousands of players as everyone is eager to see football progressing in the country,” he said.
“The stakeholders are fighting for their interests. They don’t bother how we are being been affected. We not only faced a huge monetary loss during the last one year but it also impeded our international careers,” the player pointed out.
Because of a legal battle between two groups of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), no football activity has been held for the last 14 months or so.
Lahore High Court (LHC) has recently announced that fresh PFF elections would be held within four months. The court has constituted a three-member committee comprising secretaries of Sports Board Punjab (SBP), Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sports Board. The next hearing of the contempt of court case against PFF chief Faisal Saleh Hayat is on June 30.
Faisal group plans to go for intra-court appeal. And if its application is rejected it will go to the Supreme Court.
Faisal-led PFF is recognised by the FIFA, which last year gave it two years and asked it to revise its constitution and hold fresh elections by September 2017.
But because of local courts’ proceedings the matter could not be taken up as advised by FIFA. “We know that the crisis is not going to end soon. It will take time,” a player said. “For us time is very important.”
Pakistan missed SAFF Cup, South Asian Games and a few Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) age-group international competitions. Even the Pakistan Premier League has not been held. If the issue is not resolved the Premier League might be missed again as it normally begins in August or September. “Our movement will resolve the issue. This year we will play the Premier League,” he stressed.
A former Pakistan coach told this correspondent that the players had completely lost that gloss which they had achieved in the national camps.
“You will be disappointed if you see the players playing. They haven’t even touched the ball for so long,” the coach pointed out. “The players have lost their shape. They have gained weight and lost quite a bit of what they had achieved through tough training during their engagement with the Pakistan team,” he said.
“I don’t know how long it would take the players to regain their lost shape when the crisis is over. Footballers at every level have been suffered a lot,” said the coach, who was one of the best international defenders of his time.
He said had there been players association and coaches association the matter would have been resolved. “Players association and coaches associations are a must in Pakistan,” said the coach, who did not want to be named.