by Umaid Wasim
KARACHI: Confusion reigned on Tuesday whether the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee on the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) will work with the latter’s secretary general retired Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi. Even if it does work with him, however, the global football body indicated that Lodhi will have little or no influence over the committee’s decision-making.
FIFA on Saturday announced that it will be appointing a Normalisation Committee for the PFF whose ultimate job is to hold elections of the country’s football governing body and bring an end to a four-year-long crisis that saw the game come to a standstill in the country.
While FIFA recognised the PFF faction led by Faisal Saleh Hayat, the domestically-recognised football chief of the country was Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah who was elected as PFF president in an election held on the orders of the Supreme Court in December last year. That election came at the culmination of a nearly four-year legal battle over the control of Pakistan’s football but wasn’t accepted by FIFA.
FIFA’s decision put aside both presidents with the Normalisation Committee, which will be composed in soon, acting as the PFF Executive Committee which has been disbanded. However, since then Lodhi — the secretary general of the PFF faction led by Hayat — has claimed that his secretariat will work with the Normalisation Committee.
More interestingly, a news release by the Hayat faction on Tuesday has announced nationwide trials for the Pakistan Under-16 and Under-19 teams for upcoming AFC and SAFF tournaments under Lodhi, who it claims is a “nominated representative” of the Normalisation Committee.
“The Normalisation Committee will be tasked with running the PFF’s daily affairs and overseeing the functioning of the PFF administration,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn on Tuesday, without confirming whether the committee will work with Lodhi.
The fact that the Normalisation Committee has been tasked with overseeing the functioning of the PFF administration, of which Lodhi is part, effectively means that the PFF secretary general will have little role in how the whole election process is conducted. Dawn understands that the Normalisation Committee reserves the right to keep the officials of the PFF administration or dispense with them.
FIFA’s decision to appoint the Normalisation Committee came following a visit to the country of a FIFA-AFC fact-finding mission which met with officials of both factions. The mission, Dawn has very reliably learnt, wasn’t too pleased with the working of the Hayat faction and its administration hadn’t even started working on an earlier roadmap it had been provided to hold fresh polls by March 2020.
The displeasure was evident in the letter sent to Lodhi informing him about the decision to appoint a Normalisation Committee. “The roadmap has never begun to be implemented given the afore-mentioned circumstances of conflict,” it said.
FIFA meanwhile, said there was “no point in speculating” about the composition of the Normalisation Committee with rumours abound that it will include two members from each PFF faction and a neutral chairman. “As stated in the advisory, “FIFA and the AFC will now begin the task of identifying, interviewing and selecting the members of the normalisation committee — an update will be provided on that matter in due course”,” the spokesperson added. “The objective remains to find the best possible solution for Pakistan’s football.”