by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Former Pakistan football team captain Mohammad Essa on Saturday said if FIFA gives him the responsibility of holding the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) elections then he is confident he will conduct the electoral process before the expiry of the mandate which the world body will set for him.
“There is no issue,” Essa told ‘The News’ in an interview from his hometown Chaman. “I am surprised why the previous NC wasted 15 long months and the fresh NC also is not in a mood to go for elections despite having only three months at its disposal. If FIFA gives me the responsibility then I am more than confident that I will conduct the elections ten days before the expiry of the mandate,” Essa said.
“If Pakistan’s elections can be held within three months then how elections of 45 districts, with voting rights, cannot be conducted in six or nine months,” Essa said.
“The previous NC under Humza Khan wasted a long time, doing nothing towards the electoral process. Now NC under Haroon Malik also is not in a mood to go for elections. I am surprised the current NC is discussing with people plans until March 2022 despite the fact that its mandate will expire on June 30, 2021,” Essa said.
“I know how to handle the various issues. We live in this environment and have served Pakistan for a long time and can handle these things. Our football cannot bear any further issue. If the current NC fails to conduct elections then the nation can face a ban from FIFA and that would completely wipe out the sport from the country,” Essa feared.
“Look, two departments were closed down because of such issues. My own employers say that they contacted the previous NC several times through letters about football programmes and when the NC did not respond they had no other option but to close the department,” said Essa.
“Another team was also disbanded as they knew that football was not being taken seriously,” Essa said.
He urged the NC chairman Haroon Malik to immediately announce a roadmap and completely focus on elections within the stipulated time-frame which is June 30.
“Haroon should go for elections immediately. Those who have filed cases can be talked to and issues can amicably be resolved. If you go fair and by constitution no one can create any hurdle for you. Any delaying tactics will further damage the game,” Essa said.
FIFA in September 2019 installed PFF NC by bringing in Humza Khan as chairman with the mandate to hold the PFF elections until June 2020. However, Humza failed to meet the deadline. FIFA extended the mandate until December 31, 2020, and again Humza did nothing. However, he resigned before the end of the last year. FIFA then brought in Canada-based Haroon Malik in January but he has so far shown no strong resolve to hold the PFF elections.
Essa stressed that PFF Director Technical Daniel Limones should be fired immediately. “He does not deserve to act as Director Technical. He played a red-carded player, fixed B Division league to give favour to Karachi United, insulted the country’s legendry footballer Ali Nawaz by suspending him from his post of match commissioner and did not respect football legends when he himself distributed prizes during the National Challenge Cup in Lahore. He does not deserve to stay anymore,” Essa said.
He said Daniel changed the schedule during the ongoing National Women Championship. “Every team comes with a certain plan and you cannot change a team’s matches without its consent but I have heard Daniel has done this,” said Essa, a former playmaker.
“There was no need to hold the National Women Football Championship in such a shabby way. There should have been qualifying rounds which could help create a competitive environment in the main event having better teams. But it is just a drama and teams are conceding 19 and 15 goals which is ridiculous,” Essa said.
“Around Rs25 million is being spent on the women event. Had there been some solid planning then Rs10 million could have been saved and spent on laying a turf at the FIFA Football House in Karachi which could have played an effective role in the development of football in the city,” Essa said.