by Alam Zeb Safi
LAHORE: The chairman of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee Haroon Malik has said that they are very much on track regarding holding the PFF elections but clarified that a handful of court cases may delay the process.
“We are heading towards elections. There are three types of works. The first is the club registration and on that front, we have given December 15 as a deadline and we are very much on track,” Haroon told ‘The News’ in an exclusive interview here.
“The next step is club scrutiny. The documents being received indicate that the club scrutiny documentation process is very much on track. Physical competitions in the districts have not been held for long and that is why physical scrutiny needs to be completed,” Haroon said.
“It may take some more time. Two cases have been filed against the PFF and the pleas are that we cannot start elections. One case is in the Bahawalpur court and the other is in Balochistan court. We are pursuing both these cases,” said Haroon.
He said that the third important aspect is that the bank accounts case is also yet to be adjudicated. “The things cannot proceed until these three cases reach their end,” he was quick to add.
Haroon also did not rule out the chance of making some amendments to the constitution before going for the PFF elections. “We will have to confront some problems at the elections stage as far as the PFF constitution is concerned. There are some simple things like the merger of FATA in KP as it is seen separate in the constitution and we will have to find out its solution. And the next thing is what is a club. It is explained in the constitution but very few clubs could meet that definition. These are easy things, which could be handled,” he said.
“The next thing is who can contest elections. Maybe there are certain requirements of amendment in the constitution as without that electoral process cannot go ahead,” he said.
Haroon said that a joint delegation of FIFA and AFC would visit Pakistan in January to discuss important matters. “If you remember I requested a joint delegation of FIFA and AFC. They had to come on the weekend but the political situation here deteriorated. We had invited IPC ministry, Senate sub-committee on football, PSB and some other departments so that a relationship of Pakistan could also be built with FIFA. I have met them again and have requested them and they have agreed on dates in January 2023,” Haroon said.
“The delegation is coming to also look into the constitutional affairs so that we could resolve them,” he was quick to add. He said that their doors are open to everyone as many people (stakeholders) have held meetings with NC.
“As there are some constitutional issues so this process can go forward through mutual consultation and that is why we are engaged with the whole community and will continue to do so and the changes which the process will experience will also be shared with everyone. And if there is a need to build a consensus on certain things we will also do that. But I hope once FIFA and AFC give their decisions we will go for direct implementation,” he said.
Asked whether state departments will be part of the electoral process, Haroon said: “Departments have played a positive role in Pakistan’s sports history. State departments not only promoted sports but provided jobs to thousands of athletes. FIFA does not believe in government interference. The application of government interference in our constitution is a factor due to which Pakistan’s football is languishing. In the constitution state interference should be reduced. But again it is yet to be known whether we will make changes in the constitution or not and for that we are waiting for the FIFA and AFC directives,” he said.
Asked whether those involved in the raid on the PFF headquarters will face any ban from FIFA, Haroon said every federation has its own disciplinary process and FIFA and AFC have their own disciplinary process. “When the PFF headquarters came under attack, FIFA asked us for all details and we provided that. We don’t ask them what they will do about that and neither they share with us anything. They follow a specific process. Even these days they keep asking us questions about the FIFA Goal Projects and we provide them with the answers. Their investigation mechanism is long-term,” he said.
“The PFF constitution also envisions a disciplinary process which carries three domestic steps and one international. So, you have disciplinary committee, appeal committee, arbitration tribunal and when all these three processes are exhausted then you can go to Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). We have constituted a disciplinary committee as per constitution. And in it some cases have also started processing,” the chairman said.
He expressed his satisfaction over the way Pakistan played against Nepal at the latter’s backyard recently. “The 2023 calendar for both men’s and women’s is events-filled. There are both World Cup and Olympic Qualifiers next year. Women team will go to Saudi Arabia for a four-nation series in January while men’s team will go in March to Bhutan for a three-nation event, also including Maldives. Besides, there are FIFA friendly windows for both genders. We will need NOCs from the state for those,” he said.