by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: The federal government looks serious to resolve the long-standing football issue of Pakistan. The country has been facing international isolation since FIFA suspended Pakistan for third-party’s interference on April 7, 2021, for the second time in three years.
FIFA will only lift suspension when its appointed Normalisation Committee (NC) regains access to the PFF headquarters and accounts.
The Ashfaq Hussain-led PFF has had the control of the headquarters. It came into existence as a result of the Supreme Court-ordered elections in December 2018.
According to sources, a three-member delegation of the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee comprising Haris Azmat, Shahid Khokhar and Saud Hashmi held a meeting with President Dr Arif Alvi in the president’s house in Islamabad a few days ago.
The NC briefed Alvi in detail. Sources revealed that Alvi was fully aware of the overall situation of Pakistan football and said that he could not see the country embarassed any more and that the matter should be immediately resolved.
According to sources, federal minister for IPC Dr Fehmida Mirza, Director General Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Col (retd) Asif Zaman and secretary IPC Mohsin Mushtaq were also present in the meeting.
Sources said that Alvi had invited NC members for the meeting. It was learnt that the president advised IPC minister to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Sources said that Alvi became happy after knowing about the stance of NC relating to the PFF elections.
Sources said that Alvi was assured by the delegation that the PFF elections would be held in the stipulated time-frame and under the constitution of the PFF.
As per constitution at least eight months will be required for completing the electoral process. The scrutiny time-frame is two and a half months. Then four and a half months are needed for elections at various levels and one month to hand over the control of the PFF to the elected body.
After resuming its work, NC will also need to withdraw the case relating to the PFF accounts. It will also have to get the electoral rules and budget approved by FIFA before taking the first step towards conducting club scrutiny. The task of the NC as per FIFA’s mandate is to conduct scrutiny of the clubs and hold elections at the district, provincial and PFF levels.
The NC’s meeting with Alvi was also confirmed by a well-placed source in the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).
“Yes, the meeting of the NC members with Arif Alvi has been held. It was quite good,” the PSB source said. “The government is serious in resolving the football issue. We are waiting for the elections roadmap from the NC and soon we will be able to get the PFF headquarters vacated,” the PSB source said.
Dr Fehmida, as a mediator, has already held meetings with most of the stakeholders.
FIFA installed NC in September 2019, giving it nine months until June 2020 to hold the PFF elections but NC failed to do that. The mandate was extended until December-end last year but again Humza Khan-led NC failed to do its job. Humza resigned near the end of last year following which FIFA extended NC’s mandate until June 30, 2021, and overhauled the NC by replacing all its members and bringing in Canada-based Haroon Malik as chairman.
When Haroon-led NC also failed to take any concrete step towards elections, the Ashfaq group re-assumed the charge by occupying the PFF headquarters in the last week of March this year.
FIFA asked it to vacate the house and when Ashfaq group did not do that the world body imposed suspension on Pakistan on April 7, 2021. The NC remains intact. Its mandate has already been extended until September 30 by FIFA.