by Umaid Wasim
KARACHI: Only one member of the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee that was announced in September 2019 remains after FIFA made wholesale changes to the body in an attempt to freshen up the process to put the game in the country back on track.
Haroon Malik has been named chairman of the committee in place of Humza Khan, who resigned from the post in December last year. Muneer Sadhana, who took the role of acting chairman following Humza’s resignation, will return to being a member on the committee alongside three new members.
Those three new members are former PFF media manager Shahid Khokhar, Lahore-based lawyer Haris Azmat and Saud Azim Hashmi, who is from Karachi.
Khokhar’s inclusion perhaps is the most surprising considering he was a long-time PFF employee during the tenure of Faisal Saleh Hayat, who was the country’s football chief from 2003 until the Normalisation Committee was installed and he was also one of the candidates put forward by Hayat when the committee was initially being formed.
The last four years of Hayat’s tenure were mired in crisis and controversy as a vicious power struggle for control of the PFF ensued.
“This is a fresh chance for us to bring Pakistan football back on track,” Khokhar told Dawn following his appointment, attempting to dispel any notion of his allegiance to the Hayat faction.
The changes to the Normalisation Committee weren’t officially announced by FIFA and only came to light when a letter addressed to Sadhana by FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura was made available on several messaging platforms.
Once again, FIFA has stuck to the same formula it used for the composition of the Normalisation Committee 15 months ago.
The newly-formed committee has two members belonging to the Hayat faction — Khokhar and Sadhana — and the other two from an opposing faction which has split into two during the last year.
Haroon, who resides in Canada, comes in as the committee chairman, plucked from relative obscurity although he has made forays into Pakistan football recently.
He describes himself as a technology entrepreneur and investor as well as a sports enthusiast on his LinkedIn profile. In March last year, he shared a picture of himself on social media at the headquarters of the Asian Football Confederation in Kuala Lumpur.
He stated he was there to “discuss opportunities and ideas for Pakistan football”. At that point in time, the AFC spokesperson told Dawn that it was a “courtesy visit”.
He’s also part of a social media page that puts out content on Pakistan football.
“We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all members of the Normalisation Committee for the significant work achieved since September 2019, and this under difficult circumstances,” FIFA told Sadhana in the letter.
“We are grateful for efforts throughout this time. However in order to give fresh impetus to this normalisation process, FIFA and AFC have decided to replace three out of four current members of the Normalisation committee. In this sense, you will be the only member to complete his mandate.”
The initial mandate of the Normalisation Committee was until June 2020 before it was extended to the end of last year. It is now due to expire on June 30 this year.
Holding fresh elections till then remains a tall order for the newly-installed committee considering Sadhana overturned a number of decisions taken by Humza during his month-long stint as acting chairman.
In a press release on Tuesday, FIFA informed the committee will assume its duties from Wednesday, while adding that the members will still have to pass eligibility checks.
“While the normalisation committee chairman and members will assume their duties as of 20 January 2021, their final confirmation is conditional upon the successful completion of an eligibility check carried out by the FIFA Review Committee in accordance with the FIFA Governance Regulations,” it said.