Former PFF official blasts federation for declining standards

LAHORE, Sept 26: Former Pakistan captain, chief selector, secretary-general of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and the pioneer of the Pakistan Football Premier League (PPFL) as its director technical Col. (retd.) Mujahidullah Tareen has lashed out at the federation’s officials for bringing down the standard of the league along with the game due to bad planning and favouritism.

Speaking to Dawn on Saturday, Col Mujahid, who had successfully launched the PFF league in 2004, said that it was started with the aim to take the standard of the sport here up to at least the semi-professional leagues by awarding maximum money to the players. But that could not be done due to the wrong policies and priorities of the PFF officials.

“As a matter of fact, I as PFF’s director technical convinced, planned and successfully conducted the Premier and PFF leagues in 2004 and 2005 but had to say good bye to the federation in May 2006 due not seeing eye to eye with President Faisal Saleh Hayat,” he said.

“It was unfortunate that incompetent people like Muslim Butt and Pervez Saeed Mir were involved to run the affairs of the sport after my departure. Their mishandling of things and the non availability of sponsors has hurt the league,” he added.

Mujahid said that although Muslim Butt was sacked in 2008, Pervaiz Saeed Mir, who is basically an international athlete and ex-general secretary of Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF), was given a freehand to run the league.

“But Mir could not comprehend the serious issues cropping up in the league and the league system as a result has totally flopped.

“They included Habib Bank Limited in 2006 and PIA in 2008 while violating the rules/regulations criteria on the direction of Faisal Saleh Hayat, which ruined the competitive spirit,” he alleged.

He further alleged that in 2007, a Nigerian player, Aqeem Abbas, played from Wohaib Club, Lahore, without any proper registration with the club and the PFF. Pervez Saeed Mir, who wanted to help Wohaib Club, failed to take any proper disciplinary action against the said club.

“After a match in 2007, the National Bank of Pakistan team coach Nasir Ismail dared to pull out a pistol on a FIFA referee Jehangir Khan in the referees’ dressing room at the CDGK Stadium, Karachi. And instead of banning him for life, the PFF sent him to attend an AFC ‘A’ certificate course after which they appointed him head coach of the national team,” Mujahid informed.

He further said that Nasir once again misbehaved with the referees and match commissioner Rashid Butt at the Railways Stadium, Lahore. “However, this time Nasir was suspended for two matches on the report of the match commissioner. But even then he was found guiding his team while sitting next to the bench, despite Pak Elektron Limited’s coach Asghar Anjum complaining about him,” he said.

“The match commissioner Rauf Bari too failed to take any action against Nasir. And even more surprising is the fact that it all happened in the presence of Pervez Saeed Mir, the custodian of the federation’s technical department,” he pointed out.

Moreover, he said Nasir Ismail had also criticised the PFF through a press statement but PFF never bothered to serve him with any notice for it.

“Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi, PFF’s first paid general secretary knowing fully well all the irregularities and ill discipline going on could not take any strict action on these serious violations and Nasir’s misconduct. He is probably helpless against the strong lobby formed by Nasir and Pervez Mir,” he said.

Coming back to the failure of the league’s concept, Mujahid said that the PFF could not attract big crowds to the match venues. There is no one to see best teams and players of the country in action mainly due to the unprofessional handling of the technical department.

“The PFF also ignored the historic venue of football, the CDGK Stadium, when organising the PPFL matches this time around due to political reasons,” he said.

He said he was surprised to see that while the KASB Premier League matches involving local Karachi clubs were telecast by a foreign TV channel, the matches of the PFF league were not being shown on even local TV. According to Col Mujahid, this has all happened because the PFF president wanted publicity for himself instead of the players.

But sadly all these things don’t make the PFF or its officials the losers. It is the sport of football and its players who are losing out for it is always the players who look towards their bosses to increase their win bonuses, prize money and other incentives. But all these things are not possible in the absence of sponsorships as a major portion of the FIFA and AFC grants are being spent to meet the requirements of the heavy contingent of PFF officials, staff and unnecessary overheads, specially to maintain the luxury, vehicles bought for Faisal Saleh Hayat and his team of non-technical favourites, hired mostly from Shah Jeevna Textile Mills or Jhang.

He said that the marketing department of the PFF had miserably failed to attract sponsors for PPFL, despite sitting in beautiful offices and making trips abroad on the PFF’s expense.

Naveed Haider, head of the marketing department, he said, is sitting in Malaysia but he is still on the roll of the PFF without having achieved anything.

He also pointed out that the 59 matches played so far in the PPFL league had been organised in the scorching heat of Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Lahore and Islamabad during July and August, whereas these could have been organised under much better weather conditions in Quetta, Nushki and Karachi. In return, the cities in Punjab could serve as better venues from October to December.

“The Afghan Chaman and Baloch Nushki teams could not perform well in Punjab in the hot and humid weather. As a result, they lost all their matches. Similarly the performances of the Punjab and Sindh teams will be badly affected during their matches in Chaman and Nushki during the winters,” he predicted.

While commenting on Pakistan’s poor FIFA ranking, he said that Pakistan was ranked 176th in June, 2004, but after beating India in the home series the same year and putting on good performances in the AFF Cup and AFC Challenge Cup due to the efforts of coach Salman Sharida (Bahrain), Pakistan clinched 20 stages to reach the 158th spot in December 2005. But unfortunately due to the bad planning and mishandling of affairs by non-technical people, Pakistan’s present FIFA ranking has again come down to 169th.

[COURTESY: Mohammad Yaqoob;]