by Alam Zeb Safi
There are so many examples that FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committees have worked successfully. But it is a reality that their success always depends on how they keep the various stakeholders united. In Pakistan’s case, I fear the NC has not shown any character and seems to be unable to keep football stakeholders united.
Since its appointment in September last year, it has been consistently making big mistakes which kept the stakeholders wide apart. This thing will sink the committee eventually and Pakistan’s football will find itself in a deep quagmire in the shape of FIFA’s sanctions.
The question is: why has NC been unable so far to show working grace? FIFA’s Alex Gross, the man behind PFF NC, had said at a local hotel in Karachi during a conversation with a couple of journalists soon after the appointment of the PFF NC last year: “if all parties are unhappy it will indicate the success of the NC.”
He further said: “if one party is happy and the other is unhappy then it will show there is something wrong with the working of the NC.”
If we see today one party is happy while others are not and it is a clear indication that NC is making huge mistakes and looks biased as alleged by many stakeholders.
It is being influenced by outsiders. This is a big issue. The NC chairman Humza Khan on Wednesday reacted to the criticism from Malik Amir Dogar, a former PFF vice-president and PTI MNA from Multan.
Humza, while justifying changes made to certain provincial NCs composition, said: “We have tried our best to replace certain members with alleged links to any of the factions. We’re making our best efforts to remove people who have any personal or business links with any of the football stakeholders.”
The NC head in his above statement speaks about links. He forgets that his own link has also been hugely criticised.
The biased appointment of coaches for national duty, wrong selection of training centre for Pakistan Under-19 team, failure in fielding national team in the 13th South Asian Games, making an effort to prevent former Pakistan coach Shehzad Anwar from joining a Qatar club, ignoring provincial stakeholders while installing provincial NCs, making several changes in the composition of the provincial NCs, recruiting staff for the PFF secretariat without adopting a standard procedure and holding matches of the National Women Championship at the controversial Karachi United ground which invited criticism from various circles because of its length, are some of the controversial steps taken by the NC.
NC members are not allowed to speak to media. But what I know through sources is that some NC members are not happy with the way things are being handled.
When I contacted an NC member the other day he seemed unhappy with the situation but said: “I cannot speak to media as I have given my consent not to speak but I can only say off the record that I am fighting.”
This shows that definitely issues are there within NC which must be addressed.
FIFA easily releases a statement in favour of NC when any reporter writes to it but it does not mean that everything is okay. I have been covering football for the last 20 years and know who supports whom.
There is no angel in Pakistan football fabric. No one is indispensable for the country’s football. But this is a golden opportunity to correct the things and pave way for transparent elections of the PFF. If the NC failed to hold elections, FIFA would be responsible. I told Alex that their start was not good as I raised questions over some members of the NC and he will see in future what I said was correct. Although he did not give weightage at that time to my opinion but time will make things clear.
I again advise FIFA that it can recompose the NC at this stage if it wants to hold transparent elections by giving the task to experienced, neutral and competent personalities. There is no dearth of people with principles in Pakistan. There are such people who if given the task may keep all the stakeholders united because of their neutral decisions and towering stature. It is not the work of average people to pave the way for holding the PFF elections in the complicated environment when the whole fraternity is divided into so many groups.
FIFA should send a delegation for a meeting with the genuine stakeholders of football in Pakistan, take their views about the steps taken by the NC and then decide the future course of action.
It should not believe the reports submitted by NC. Yes, FIFA can give authority to the NC but it should also see whether that authority is being utilised for the betterment of one party or for the sake of football in the country. It is time FIFA acted as the saviour of football in Pakistan.