by Alam Zeb Safi
Pakistan’s sports sector is passing through the most critical and uncertain phase of its history. There are various issues which have created anxiety. The government-POA rift is taking a serious twist. It is not known which way things will go eventually. I don’t see any chance of reconciliation as things have gone too far.I have already covered this issue in my previous article in detail and have mentioned what will happen if major decisions are taken.
The government has also taken seriously the football issue which needs urgent resolution. It has been damaging the players’ future and any further delay will make the sport very much repulsive for the upcoming youth who want to do something in it. The other day a senior player of Pakistan told me that he had damaged his career by taking up football as a profession. “It would have been better had I done some other job,” the player said.
It’s extremely sad as for the last six years we have been playing with the careers of our footballers. This drama should now end and a serious decision on the part of the government is now required.
FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee’s members Shahid Khokhar, Saud Hashmi and Haris Azmat held a meeting with the president Dr Arif Alvi in Islamabad, most probably on August 12. According to sources, Alvi has deep knowledge of the conflict and wants to resolve the issue as soon as possible. He has directed the IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza to get the issue resolved immediately so that NC could go for the PFF elections.
Currently the PFF headquarters is in control of the Ashfaq group and FIFA will only lift suspension when its NC has regained access to the headquarters. Sources told me that Alvi was informed by the NC that the PFF elections would be held under the constitution. Alvi was briefed about the elections roadmap by the NC and he was satisfied. He wants FIFA to lift the suspension, which is hurting Pakistan as our national teams and clubs have been prevented from featuring in international events.
Legal issues may arise if the government forces the Ashfaq group to vacate the PFF headquarters. But the government is confident it will be able to play a positive role. After Ashfaq group’s senior official Naveed Haider decided to resign from all PFF posts now Malik Amir Dogar is the only key actor left with Ashfaq group. Dogar is an MNA of PTI and I think he will not resist if the government asks him to vacate the football house and allow NC to resume its work.
NC will complete the electoral process in nine months as per PFF Constitution. Once the issue is resolved NC should not desist from strictly following its election agenda. Its chairman Haroon Malik will have to work seriously. He should not involve himself in controversies. Haroon will no longer be allowed to play with the careers of our footballers and he will have to fulfill his obligations for which he has been appointed by FIFA. If Haroon has his eyes on commercial leagues and other adventures then FIFA should replace him with some other seasoned person with high stature so that the work could be completed without any further mess.
The Covid-19 issues are also creating a huge problem for Pakistani players as far as their participation in international events is concerned.
Wrestlers Mohammad Inam, Inayatullah and Zaman Anwar aim to feature in the World Series Beach Wrestling to be held in various cities of Europe next month. But they have been facing visa issues. They have been unable to get a Schengen visa, which is offered by the European Union, and now they will have to secure separate visas for Italy, Greece and Romania where the events are being held. It’s a huge issue. Inam, who is regarded as a beach wrestling global hero, missed one of such series in France recently due to visa issues.
Similarly, the country’s seasoned professional wrestler Mohammad waseem also faces a huge problem in returning to action due to Covid. As the UK has put Pakistan on the red list it is now extremely difficult for the two-time WBC world silver champion to proceed to Glasgow for training.
Now his company MTK Global has secured for him a UAE visa and he is preparing to proceed there via Uzbekistan to resume his training for the world title shot which he wants to play this year.
He is very upset. He has also applied for the US visa but has not got any response. He wants the government to issue him a diplomatic passport so that he could pursue his career more effectively.
Boxing is also facing a huge issue. The government does not want to keep working relations with the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF). AIBA a few months ago asked the PBF to repeat its elections. The world body stated that if PBF did not do that then the federation might be suspended. However, until now AIBA has not taken any further step which means the PBF is not suspended and it is recognised by AIBA. But the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) understands that AIBA does not recognise the PBF. It’s a big issue and AIBA should explain this so that our national boxers could get proper treatment as major events are ahead next year.