by Shazad Ali
KARACHI, May 20: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) accounts including FIFA’s one million-dollar grant would be audited to check irregularities, sports ministry said Monday.
The sorry state of soccer affairs, despite having a hefty amount in PFF’s kitty, has prompted the ministry to initiate action against the federation.
FIFA, the sport’s world governing body, had selected PFF for its $one million four-year financial assistance programme in 1999. FIFA has released three $250,000 instalments, while PFF expects the fourth and the last tranche later this year.
The PFF is expected to become yet richer after being chosen for FIFA’s $400,000 Goal Project last year.
“The ministry (of sports) has decided to audit PFF’s accounts including the FIFA funds by the end of this month,” federal sports minister, Col S.K Tressler (retd) told Dawn Monday.
The minister said the present PFF officials had the current month to hold the elections or they would be conducted under Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).
“A committee may be constituted to check if the FIFA funds have been misused or mismanaged. But if a new PFF hierarchy comes into power after polls, it will itself act as a committee that will probe into the affair.
“There must be checks and balance and audit has to be done. If the PFF does something wrong, it brings bad name to the country,” Tressler said.
The minister though did not elaborate what action would be taken if any misappropriation was detected, he sounded a warning and said officials involved would be dealt with severely.
“We can’t let go those who embezzle national wealth. If we find anything wrong, the officials will definitely be taken to task,” he said.
Apart from FIFA funds, annual PFF audit reports had also been sought the minister said and added most of the federations did not provide records of their accounts.
The Pakistan Hockey Federation that took over the management on July 5, 2000, also audited the previous accounts, but closed the file saying it was only a case of “incompetence and mismanagement.”
However, the minister ruled out a possibility of dissolving PFF as the Kenyan government had recently done. The Kenyan sports minister Friday disbanded Kenya Football Federation (KFF) and froze its accounts saying it was involved in financial irregularities.
Although FIFA’s package is for youth soccer development schemes, Pakistan even does not have Under-14 and Under-16 squads.
With its purse ballooning, the PFF always complains of “shortage of funds” and tries to rope in sponsors for team’s travel expenses. The PFF, which should have built its Football House a long time ago, is least bothered in raising adequate infrastructure.
While the Asian countries like Iran, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, have execellent league system, the PFF is yet to finalize league plans, despite repeated directives from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
As the PFF officials are busy in joyrides, the footballers bears the brunt of the “shortage of funds”. The team travelled to England last year to play two friendlies against clubs, the outfit played without proper kits.
The players’ plight could be judged by the fact that all they got was Rs40 as daily allowance during a camp for Under-20 Asian qualifiers in Karachi last month.
Published in Dawn, 21 May 2002