by Umaid Wasim
KARACHI: FIFA wants the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) election to be held according to the timeline it has set, the world football’s governing body said on Tuesday weeks after the Supreme Court ordered its Pakistan member to hold polls within a month.
Last month, FIFA’s Member Associations Committee gave the Faisal Saleh Hayat-led PFF an 18-month period — until March 2020 — to hold fresh elections. The decision followed three years of turmoil in the country’s football governing body which began with a controversial PFF election in June 2015.
In those three years, FIFA had also imposed a six-month ban on the PFF for what it termed “third-party interference” as the Lahore High Court had installed an administrator to look after the country’s football affairs.
The ban was lifted in March this year when Hayat was restored as PFF chief. Controversy remained however and the Supreme Court, having ordered fresh elections to plunge the PFF out of its crisis back in April, followed up on that order by calling elections on December 8 in Islamabad at its conference room.
It seems that it has irked FIFA.
“FIFA has today sent a letter to the PFF including a roadmap, which is in line with the decision taken during the last meeting of FIFA’s Member Associations Committee, and requesting information about the alleged decision made by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to order the PFF to hold elections within a month,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn on Tuesday.
FIFA calling it an “alleged decision” came as a surprise as Dawn had sent the world’s football body a certified copy of the court order nearly two weeks ago while asking for comment.
FIFA had then said it would only comment once it had received and analysed “official information on the matter from the PFF”.
It remains unclear whether the PFF has informed FIFA about the court order. PFF officials were present when the order was passed and they had consented to the election.
“The roadmap is in line with the one that was discussed at the FIFA Member Associations Committee, which foresees elections of a new PFF executive committee by the end of March 2020 at the latest,” added the FIFA spokesperson when asked about the roadmap.
“FIFA will be in a position to comment further once additional information from PFF has been received.”
Dawn has learnt that the letter details the necessary steps that the PFF needs to take in order to hold free and fair elections, including revising their statutes in order to align them with the requirements of FIFA and the FIFA Statutes and carry out the scrutiny of the clubs.
It has resulted in a tricky situation for the PFF of Hayat. Go against the court order and they risk contempt and contesting the election will see them going against FIFA.
The electioneering process, meanwhile, has already begun.
Malik Aamir Dogar, a Member of National Assembly (MNA) from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party, announced his candidacy for the post on Monday, backed by Hayat’s former ally Sardar Naveed Haider Khan, the president of the Punjab Football Association (PFA).
Sardar Naveed was elected PFA chief in an election ordered by the Supreme Court back in May. That election was the first step in resolving the PFF dispute and saw no objection by FIFA.
On Tuesday, Sardar Naveed and Dogar met Zahir Shah, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Football Association (KPFA) chief and another former Hayat ally who stood against him in the PFF elections of 2015.
Zahir was expected to be the other candidate in the PFF elections but Sardar Naveed told Dawn that they had “agreed to contest the election jointly”.
“It was a very good meeting and we agreed that much-needed change should come at the helm of the PFF,” he said.
Zahir, however, told Dawn there is still some way before a consensus is reached but said that they were “united for the betterment of the game”.
Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2018