by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Despite a huge disclosure by the Ashfaq group a few days ago through a release of the audio recordings involving a few key actors both inside and outside Normalisation Committee seemingly planning to rig the future PFF elections, Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Col (retd) Asif Zaman is still hopeful that the football issue would be resolved soon.
“Yes, it happened, but I don’t think it will affect our struggle for the resolution of the dispute,” Asif told ‘The News’ on Monday. “The Normalisation Committee is working on a roadmap which it will give to us in due course and we are optimistic that the PFF headquarters will be vacated,’ Asif said.
“FIFA did not ban Pakistan but only suspended and the suspension will be lifted once the headquarters are handed over to the NC. We have held meetings with all the stakeholders and will write a letter to FIFA soon,” Asif said.
Asked when they would write to the world football governing body, Asif said: “We had drafted the letter but now we are going to change some of its dynamics and soon it will be forwarded to FIFA,” Asif said.
The IPC minister Dr Fehmida Mirza and the PSB boss Asif Zaman have held meetings with the Haroon Malik-led NC, Ashfaq Group, Zahir Shah and Mohsin Gilani with the aim to resolve the issue.
Last week during a news conference in Lahore, the Ashfaq group shared audio recordings of a few actors including Mohsin Gilani, a former FIFA Development Officer, NC’s former members Col Mujahid and Muneer Ahmed Sadhana, NC current member Haris Azmat, the PFF Director Finance Adnan and a few others which have made the matter highly dubious.
The Ashfaq group has said that after such a huge disclosure they would not hand over the PFF headquarters to anyone. However, the group said that they were ready to talk to FIFA and AFC. They also said they did not want “rigged” elections but fair and transparent polls.
But the PSB boss is quite confident that the issue would be resolved. “I am confident InshaAllah the things will get settled,” said Asif, a former squash player. FIFA Congress on May 21 also ratified Pakistan’s suspension.
Meanwhile, Asif said that the PSB is in negotiation with the stakeholders to get their input about the proposed national sports policy. “We met Pakistan Taekwondo Federation (PTF) the other day and today we had a meeting with the Pakistan Swimming Federation (PSF). We will invite federations like this turn by turn and will also take input from the other stakeholders before reaching a conclusion,” Asif said.
Some controversial clauses of the proposed sports policy have forced the Olympic family to react and it has pledged that it will not allow any such thing to become part of the sports policy which violates the Olympic charter and the federations’ autonomy. Asif said that the Board is going to extend help to every federation regarding their athletes’ preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.
“We are ready to assist any federation according to their needs in terms of preparations for the Olympics. Pakistan Swimming Federation (PSF) had asked us for support and we took permission from the NCOC and now their two Olympic-bound swimmers will train in the swimming pool inside the Islamabad Sports Complex. We are ready to help every federation like this if they ask us to do anything for them ahead of the Olympics in terms of the preparation of their Tokyo-bound athletes,” Asif said.
About the Melbourne-based equestrian Usman Khan, Asif said they are in contact with the Pakistan High Commission in Australia and Equestrian Federation of Pakistan (EFP) secretary. “We have also talked to his (Usman) father and the state will keep helping the equestrian until he recovers and is able to take the field again,” Asif said.
When asked about the status of Usman’s application about seeking financial support from the state earlier, Asif said that the case is in the process.
Usman a few days ago had a huge accident during an Olympic qualifier in South Australia. Usman was critically injured and his horse Kasheer died just before the finish line in the cross country after having completed the first two steps dressage and showjumping in style. Had he and his horse not met with the accident they could have retained the Olympic seat. Usman had earned an Olympic spot in 2019 through his horse Azad Kashmir which died last year which forced the rider to get through a series of rounds with a new horse to retain his seat.