by Mohammad Yaqoob
LAHORE, Aug 6: Prominent politicians are frantically lobbying for the presidency of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) ahead of the Aug 28 elections here.
Punjab chief minister, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Punjab agriculture minister Arshad Khan Lodhi, and an MNA from Bahawalpur Riaz Hussain Pirzada, are busy lobbying for the post.
However, federal minister Humayun Akhtar and a political figure from NWFP Saleem Saifullah are also in the contention.
The activity has started after long-serving PFF president Mian Mohammad Azhar, also a well-known politician, finally stepped down after holding the post for three times from 1990 to 2003.
Arshad was a strong candidate before the chief minister was convinced by the former PFF secretary Hafiz Salman Butt to contest for the coveted post.
Salman, who recently met former hockey Olympian Akhtar Rasool, and is an MNA of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), is also a candidate for the PFF secretaryship and wants a dummy secretary till the ban is lifted.
Salman is facing a 10-year ban imposed by FIFA in 1994 for making a rival faction of the PFF after parting ways with Mian Azhar.
On the other hand, Riaz Pirzada an MNA of former President of Pakistan Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari’s Millat Party, is also contesting for the post. He is using his political party to seek favour from prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali.
If one considers the situation, all does not augur well for Pakistan football as it would be ruined if a political figure takes control of it again.
Political figures have no time for the game, which has already suffered immensly due to the engagements of Mian Azhar and the PFF secretary Agha Liaquat Ali.
Arshad, who is also chairman of Punjab Football Association (PFA) could not spare time for the sport, and same will be the case with the chief minister, who is also the president of Pakistan Kabaddi Federation (PKF) and had failed to deliver as the sport had no standing even at the national level.
Furthermore, the chief minister must tender resignation as president of PKF as, according to the new sports policy, an official cannot hold top posts in two federations simultaneously.
Agha Liaquat (Balochistan) and Abbas Baloch (Sindh) are two strong candidates for the office of secretary.
According to rotation system introduced by Mian Azhar, the new secretary should come from NWFP. Salman (Punjab) was the secretary from 1990 to 1994, Abbas from 1995 to 1999 and Liaquat from 1999 to 2003.
Meanwhile, some affiliated units had sent their nominations for the general council which will elect the new office-bearers.
Those nominated from NWFP are Saeed Khan, Mohammad Ilyas and Zahir Ali Shah. No other province had sent the nominations. Four, out of total eight departments affiliated with the federation had also sent the nominations. They are PAF (Pervez Saeed Mir), Pakistan Army (Major (retd) Ashfaq) Railways (Irfan Gohar) and PIA (Ali Nawaz).
In all, eight departments and four provinces will exercise their right of vote. Each department has one vote, while a province three votes apiece.