by Alam Zeb Safi
Federal minister for IPC Dr Fehmida Mirza has sternly told the Ashfaq group that it will have to vacate the PFF headquarters in Lahore which is the only way to resolve the football matter and FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee to begin the electoral process.
But it does not seem that anything like this will happen as the Ashfaq group is not likely to vacate the headquarters.
NC too does not seem to have bold people in it. They mostly seem to protect their jobs and stick to what FIFA says to them. The Ashfaq group is of the view that it cannot vacate the headquarters but can give NC a portion in the PFF headquarters to sit and hold elections.
It doesn’t trust NC, saying it has been deceived by the committee twice. It is going to complete the Premier League and has set its eyes on next year’s franchise-based Pakistan Football League (PFL) for which it has signed a long-term deal with Global Soccer Ventures (GSV).
The Ashfaq group’s willingness to give a portion to NC does not look bad. If you don’t show flexibility the things may go worse.
The NC will have to work hardly for six months if it takes the step towards electoral process. The NC members should not think that they will keep enjoying the privileges for years to come without doing anything. They have withdrawn millions from FIFA without doing anything during the last two years.
When its mandate is going to expire it becomes active but once it gets the lease from FIFA it goes into hibernation.
We make money in the name of football without doing anything positive for the resolution of the dispute.
FIFA says that unless the NC regains access to the PFF headquarters and accounts Pakistan’s suspension will not be lifted. But the NC will need to take steps keeping in view the ground realities. If the issue can be resolved through some give and take it should go for that. Flexibility will have to be shown if issues are to be overcome.
NC sources say if they accept the offer and occupy a portion in the PFF headquarters, the Ashfaq group will interfere in their working. I firmly believe if the NC takes a written guarantee that the Ashfaq group will not interfere then the things will go well and the group will not be able to interfere. And if any interference is seen then FIFA may punish those who violate the agreement with its appointed NC.
What we need at this stage is resolution of the dispute so that steps could be taken for holding the PFF elections which must be held under the 2014 constitution of the federation.
Any further delay in the resolution of the dispute may add to the miseries of our footballers. Pakistan is the only nation in the entire world which is serving suspension and it’s really shameful as millions depend on this sport for their bread and butter.
During the last six years Pakistan missed a large number of international events. We wasted some top players. Our heroes six years ago have now lost the gloss and are on the brink of retirement. We don’t find that buzz in football which we used to see six years ago. Had FIFA taken a strict action in the start against those who had created hurdles for football the things would have been different now.
It is surprising that FIFA and AFC are just wasting time. They choose ordinary people for tackling the issue. I have earlier written that there is a need to induct people of high stature in the NC. The previous NC chairman Humza Khan was an ordinary footballer who earned money and vanished.
Haroon Malik, based in Canada, came here, held a few news conferences, created hype but his intentions were not of holding elections. It was because of a selfish approach from Haroon which gave the chance to the Ashfaq group to occupy the PFF headquarters. Had Haroon shown seriousness and taken steps towards elections such things could not have happened. FIFA should note that Pakistan cannot afford any such dramas. The world body should take keen interest in the resolution of the dispute.
The next few days are very important and I hope the things will go in the right direction. It will be the happiest day when we see an elected body taking charge and football once again being played by our players both at the domestic and international level. Unless our teams start returning to international circuit football’s actual glamour in the country will be missed. Hope sanity prevails on all fronts.