KARACHI: Former Pakistan’s assistant coach Nasir Ismail has urged the FIFA-installed Normalisation Committee to start running football and working towards holding PFF elections while establishing an office for itself anywhere in Pakistan.
“I think if nothing is being done on any front then the NC should establish its office and start running football events, managing the national team’s foreign tours and taking steps for ensuring the PFF elections within the stipulated period,” Nasir told ‘The News’ in an interview.
“The NC’s Canada-based chairman Haroon Malik should come to Pakistan and handle the affairs or FIFA should immediately sack him and appoint any person from the NC members as the chairman in his place in order to save Pakistan’s football from further damage. FIFA should consider this thing seriously,” Nasir said.
“I am surprised why FIFA gave an extension to NC if it cannot do anything for the country’s football,” Nasir questioned.
“We have seen in the past that in a similar situation former PFF president Faisal Saleh Hayat bravely handled Pakistan football by establishing an office. He kept sending teams abroad despite huge problems at home due to a parallel PFF body. I think the NC should follow Faisal and restore Pakistan’s football,” said Nasir, the head coach of Masha United.
“As the court now is giving NC the access to the PFF accounts it is a good time for the NC chairman to come to Pakistan because all football community is with him. If he does not come here from Canada then it will mean that he is not loyal to Pakistan and just makes money with his extension. If FIFA gives more extension to NC then the football community may go with the Ashfaq group,” Nasir said.
He said that due to the wrangling among various factions, the country’s football had suffered a lot. “It’s time to take some substantial steps to save the sport which feeds thousands of families,” he added.
The group led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah occupied the PFF headquarters in Lahore early this year following which FIFA suspended Pakistan. As a result, Pakistan cannot send its teams abroad for any international event.
Similarly, the Premier League is also in doldrums, which is a huge issue for the country. The Ashfaq group is going to hold the Premier League but it will not be recognised by FIFA.
Nasir said NC should pay the clubs which featured in the National Women Championship held in Karachi early this year. “NC is yet to pay several clubs. NC should take immediate steps to clear dues of the clubs which featured in the National Women Championship. NC has to pay Rs750,000 to our club Masha United. NC also needs to clear the dues related to Covid tests of various clubs,” he said.
Nasir said some hypocrites were a nuisance for the country’s football. “There is immense politics. Karachi United withdrew from the National Women Championship when the Ashfaq group took control of the PFF affairs. And now the same KU is going to feature in the Premier League which the Ashfaq group is going to hold next month. What can you expect from these people?” Nasir said.
“I will never indulge in politics but will speak for football and footballers. Being a coach I understand that players have suffered the most. If we are unable to take an immediate step to restore normalcy, then it will further damage the sport. We have lost a complete seniors batch during the last six years and it will be very tough to form a competitive team for international matches,” Nasir said.
“Our several age-group players missed AFC events and they are now nowhere. It’s a huge issue. Our grassroots football suffered a big damage,” Nasir explained.
The IPC minister Dr Fehmida Mirza is serving as a mediator to resolve the football issue. She has held several meetings with the stakeholders and NC but so far no concrete step has been taken towards resolution of the dispute. FIFA has said that it would only lift Pakistan’s suspension when NC wrote to it that it had got complete access to the PFF headquarters and accounts.