by Umaid Wasim
KARACHI: A joint delegation of global football body FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation is visiting Pakistan next week for dialogue over the resumption of funding to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee by both bodies, Dawn can exclusively reveal.
Both FIFA and the AFC had suspended funding to the PFF in January following an election of the country’s football governing body held on the orders of the Supreme Court, at the end of a nearly four-year long legal battle sparked by a controversial election held by then FIFA-recognised PFF chief Faisal Saleh Hayat.
FIFA, which doesn’t accept interference into the matters of its member associations, did not accept the Supreme Court-ordered election that saw Ashfaq Hussain Shah elected PFF president and at that time the Hayat-led group had returned an amount of US$530,000 of unused funding to FIFA and AFC following the suspension of funding.
The sticking point, however, in the resumption of funding to the Humza Khan-led PFF Normalisation Committee — appointed by FIFA in September to resolve the long-running PFF crisis — was that there is no record, or audit for that matter, of total amount of US$2,100,000 spent by Hayat’s body from March last year to January this year.
It has been learnt that when Ashfaq took over the PFF headquarters, his body was given control of FIFA’s Forward bank account as well as the AFC’s Asian Financial Assistance Programme (AFAP) bank account but it wasn’t given the bills or paperwork of the amount that was spent by the officials of Hayat’s group.
Ashfaq’s body subsequently handed over the control of the accounts to the PFF Normalisation Committee and the aim of the delegation, comprising two members from FIFA and two from the AFC, is to find out more about where those funds were utilised. FIFA doesn’t release funding for the next year unless an audit of the previous year is held and sent.
A well-placed source in FIFA told Dawn that such a visit is “common protocol and has happened in several other member associations following the implementation of a Normalisation Committee there”.
A FIFA spokesperson had told Dawn on Monday that it was in the process of resuming funding to the PFF Normalisation Committee through its Forward development programme. “We are working with the PFF Normalisation Committee to resume Forward funding through their regular Forward bank account,” the spokesperson informed.
FIFA’s Forward programme gives a member association up to US$1,000,000 per year for operational and running costs and Humza confirmed the impending visit of the FIFA-AFC delegation.
“We’re looking forward to the delegation’s visit after which the financial matters will be cleared,” Humza told Dawn on Thursday.
AFC HOUSE VISIT
Earlier this month, Humza and PFF Normalisation Committee member Col Mujahidullah Tareen visited the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, meeting AFC general secretary Dato’ Windsor John and other officials.
Following the meeting, Dato’ Windsor was quoted in a news release that the AFC expected the Normalisation Committee to “focus mainly on two tasks, holding the elections at all levels and running the day-to-day football affairs by ensuring Pakistan’s participation in international and regional competitions”.
For the completion of both tasks, the PFF Normalisation Committee will need funding from both FIFA and the AFC to resume. However, the AFC spokesperson told Dawn that financial issues weren’t discussed during the meeting.
“The AFC received the PFF NC chairman Humza Khan and the then Acting General Secretary Mujahid Ullah Khan at the AFC House on 18-19 November 2019,” the spokesperson said in a statement on Monday when asked if the Asian body was looking at resuming the AFAP funding.
“The PFF delegates had a fruitful meeting with AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John and with other Departments of AFC. The departments also prepared a presentation for the PFF delegation to highlight their respective roles and responsibilities in the AFC. But the financial issues were not discussed and it remains the same as it was when the NC was inducted by FIFA in September 2019.”