by Mohammad Yaqoob
LAHORE: The Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has no plan to invite all the stakeholders under one roof to resolve the issue of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), currently facing FIFA’s suspension, but the PSB certainly hopes that a better solution will come out soon.
In an exclusive interview with Dawn, the newly appointed Director General Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Asif Zaman was asked if the government would invite all the stakeholders to set a roadmap to resolve the issue. He replied: “Our doors are open for all and we are engaged with some of the groups openly and some dialogue are continuing behind the doors which I cannot disclose to media at this stage.”
Asif said more meetings with some other stakeholders would be held next week. When asked if Faisal Hayat’s group was also in the contact for the dialogue, the DG said no. He indirectly blamed Faisal for the football mess by saying that the game had suffered a lot in the past. However, he kept mum when asked if everyone involved in the PFF affairs did not damage the game.
To a question he said the PSB had invited FIFA’s NC head Haroon Malik for a talk, but he left for Canada which was quite surprising given the tense scenario here. “Under these circumstances Haroon should be in Pakistan to resolve the issue. But he left for Canada and it was his representative Haris Azmat who held the meetings with the government and exchanged views,” said Asif.
The DG said PSB was working on a plan to form a committee, comprising all the stakeholders to set a roadmap for the Normalisation Committee (NC) to hold fresh elections – from club to the federation’s level – before handing over the FIFA House back to the NC.
When asked if FIFA would accept the committee’s decision, Asif said he believed the world football governing body would accept it as the government is doing it all to help FIFA to resolve the local issues first, otherwise, all the groups would continue to clash with each other.
Asif accepted that the main suffering people in all this nasty episode were the players, coaches and referees and all of them should come forward to save their futures.
He said the outcome of the meetings held so far with the groups have shown good signs and everyone was showing flexibility. He said the government had no direct link with FIFA and only the NC had a contact with the world body.
It may be mentioned here that the Ashfaq Shah group, allegedly having the support of MNA Aamir Dogar who is also advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, occupied the FIFA House in Lahore on March 28, as FIFA appointed NC head Haroon Malik was forced to leave the office. Haroon made his escape from the scene as it is said Ashfaq’s group was forcing him to hand over the charge, including transfer of the bank’s accounts.
Surprisingly, Haroon did not take any legal action against this occupancy and even he did not submit any recommendations to the FIFA asking to take certain action against Ashfaq’s group. There is information that all the members of the NC are still on FIFA’s payroll, drawing monthly salaries in thousands of Us Dollars and they are not showing any interest in the efforts of the government and just wanted to get back the control of FIFA, without any condition. In the end, the Ashfaq group has the FIFA House under its control, so both these two parties have gained something but the players, coaches and referees have many questions over their future if the same situation continues further.