by Mohammad Yaqoob
LAHORE: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) led by Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah has set a condition if it is to meet the FIFA-AFC fact-finding mission that is due to arrive in the country in the early hours of Tuesday. It will only meet if it allows vice-president Sardar Naveed Haider Khan to be part of the delegation.
The mission has communicated to the Ashfaq-led body that it will not be meeting Sardar Naveed after the PFF faction led by Faisal Saleh Hayat — which is recognised by FIFA as the country’s football governing body — wrote to the global football body that Sardar had been suspended by the Punjab Football Association (PFA) congress.
Some 24 members of the 36-strong Congress met on Sunday when they suspended Sardar Naveed as the PFA president. Earlier this month Sardar Naveed, in an explosive news conference, had lambasted the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for its role in adding to Pakistan’s football woes.
Sardar Naveed was formerly an ally of Hayat before he deserted him when the Supreme Court announced fresh elections of the PFF following a three-year legal battle which saw Ashfaq elected as the PFF chief in December last year. While Ashfaq is in control of the PFF headquarters, he isn’t recognised by FIFA which is sending a mission to find a resolution to the football situation in Pakistan.
“FIFA and AFC don’t want us to include Sardar Naveed in the delegation which will meet them over the coming days to plead our case as the genuine body of the PFF,” Ashfaq told Dawn on Monday.
“We have therefore summoned our Congress meeting in Lahore to discuss our position. But it’s already decided that if Sardar Naveed isn’t allowed to meet the mission, we will not meet it. We not want to meet them with any pre-conditions on us as we are on right way and our body is genuine, representing the PFF.”
Asked if the strong stance by his body might create further problems, Ashfaq added: “We will send our legal team otherwise to explain our position.”
Former PFF secretary retired Col Mujahidullah Tareen, meanwhile, told Dawn in a statement that the Ashfaq-led body should meet the FIFA/AFC mission at all costs.
“The long-awaited mission is arriving to settle the case once and for all and both the PFF groups should play a positive role,” he said. “All decisions should be made in line for a roadmap to have transparent governance and football development at PFF in the future.
“As per past experience, FIFA would like to conduct fair and free elections under it’s supervision. Both the groups may have different opinion in this regard but as a former football player and technocrats of football we should all cooperate with FIFA delegation in the best interest of football in Pakistan.”
Mujahid also slammed Sardar Naveed’s presence in the football family, terming him as a stranger appointed by Hayat as a marketing expert.
“If we carry out analysis critically the total chaos has been created due to Sardar Naveed,” he said. “He was brought up by Hayat as PFF marketing consultant and two groups were created when Hayat tried to manipulate Punjab elections to make him PFA chief illegally in 2015.
“Ironically, like Hayat, Sardar Naveed isn’t from a football background and was imposed by Hayat out of the way in 2006 on the pretext of marketing specialist. But after being elected PFA president he betrayed Hayat and joined the other group before 2018 elections.
“He is the one who created the atmosphere of dirty politics in PFF and still he would be interested that the atmosphere of mistrust and chaos to exist so that he should be able to cash his nuisance.”