by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Some key footballers of Pakistan team are considering forming a players association and launch countrywide protest to fight for their rights as their careers have once again been jeopardised by officials wrangling.
“It’s shocking,” a player told ‘The News’ on Thursday. “Our future is at risk. We have already suffered a lot. For the last six years, there have been few football competitions. We plan to make a serious effort to form a players association so that we could raise our voice through that platform and attract the attention of those in power and also inform FIFA and the AFC about our issues,” the player said.
In recent times former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa tried to form a players association but failed to do so as elements in some departmental teams were not allowing their players to become part of the association.
“Look we have no say and it is detrimental to our future. We need to realise our importance. It is because of players the associations exist and these officials are earning huge money through football. Now we will rise on our feet,” the player said.
Another player said they should have formed it much earlier, saying such associations are absolutely necessary in the modern world where conflicts emerge because of huge money in football.
“We will start contacting players and their departments will be taken into confidence,” the player said.
“How long will these people play politics at the cost of our careers? We cannot wait anymore but will go for forming players association,” the player said.
“We will hold protest demonstrations in various major cities of the country and will also stage a sit-in in front of the Parliament House and Prime Minister residence Bani Gala. We will not let anybody play with our future,” the player said.
“We will also be able to become part of the PFF Congress which will empower the players,” he said.
The player said that there are thousands of players in Pakistan and the association will be a strong platform. He also urged the players to prepare and unite on one platform so that struggle could be made for the protection of their careers.
“It will have a link directly with FIFA and we will be in a good position to press for our demands,” another player said.
Pakistan is once again on the brink of international suspension after Ashfaq-led PFF refused to vacate the PFF secretariat ignoring the deadline set by FIFA. If Pakistan is suspended, this will be the second time for the country since 2017.
During the last six years the country’s premier league has not been held and players have been deprived of international exposure.
Pakistan had to hold its camp in Bahrain for the World Cup qualifiers against Cambodia because of the presence of a parallel body which held a separate camp in Islamabad.
The conflict has left numerous players and coaches jobless and several teams have been disbanded.
The inconsistency in football activities has inflicted a huge financial damage on players and their families. Many players have had to start odd jobs as they have to bear the financial burden of their families.