PFF end Pakistan sports isolation with Palestine, Malaysia booters

Lahore, 31 Jan : Two foreign football teams will tour Pakistan in March as PFF will do what the country’s major sports like cricket and hockey have failed to do – bring international teams to the country. Palestine National team will face Pakistan in the Lahore Test on 1 March, followed by Karachi encounter on 4 March. Later on, Pakistan Olympic Team will collide with Malaysian Olympic Team in the second leg of London Olympic Qualifiers
on 9 March.

“When no one was ready to visit Pakistan, PFF hosted the Afghanistan women team in third National Women Champonship in 2007 and Iran’s Malavan Bandar Anzali of Iran in the fifth edition of same event two years later, and now Palestine and Malaysian team would tour Pakistan,” said Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)’s President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat who is also AFC Executive Committee member.

Pakistan has a great tradition of sports and Pakistani sportsmen have excelled internationally wth hockey team winning the World Cup four times and Cricket team lifted the World Cup Cup once. Pakistan football team put up brilliant display with record four golds in South Asian Games. It is unfortunate the security situation in the country has badly affected sports in Pakistan. “Its really unfortunate for Pakistan sports that it is currently completely isolated. I understand that it’s a big drawback for our players and organizers which is discouraging.”
Pakistan have not hosted an international cricket match since March 2009 and  being stripped of the 10th Cricket World Cup hosting rights, the event that starts on 19 February 2011 with co-hosts India and Bangladesh facing off at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka.
Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), in a bid to prove that Pakistan is safe for all sports activities, plan arrival of Egypt team in April as hockey lovers are still waiting for international hockey matches since 26 February 2006 when Pakistan-India were locked 3-3 in the sixth tie of 10th Pak-India Series at Rawalpindi. A disaster for Pakistan hockey as PHF had prganized eleven editions of the high-proflie Champions Trophy from 1978-2004. Lately Pakistan tennis has another setback after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) ignored home territory for Pakistan who have to play Hong Kong in the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group-II tie that has now shifted to Hong Kong’s Victoria Park (4-6 March 2011). ITF was not satisfied with the security arrangements and feared for players.

There was once a time when nobody would dare predict a non-Pakistani champion at the British Open or World Open. First, it was Jahangir Khan, followed by his successor Jansher Khan in tenure 1981-97. Pakistan’s uncertain security situation has worsened matters. Home players used to get opportunities to rub shoulders with professionals players at home. But the PSA has stopped awarding World Tour events to Pakistan because of security apprehensions.

The country’s sports suffered a major setback when the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked by the terrorists in Lahore on 3 March 2009 compelling the visiting team to return back to their country without completing the cricket series.
Pakistan, after two internationals at Lahore and Karachi,  will reciprocate by visiting Palestine during April- May.”It was my wish to play three international friendlies in each countries but time and financial constraints are hampering not only the series but several other events/courses in PFF calendar 2011

“The more we play international matches, the more the team would develop for at least Asian standards. Soccer is not like hockey or cricket which are played in a handful countries. The competition is very tough in Soccer,” said said Faisal who is also FIFA and World Disciplinary Committee member and Chairman AFC Disciplinary Committee.

With 208 associations, three more than IOC, affiliated to FIFA today, world football’s governing body has rightly been dubbed the “United Nations of Football. It may be some time before Tuvalu, Kiribati, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Reunion, Sint Maarten, Tibet, Gibralter etc will become full FIFA members. In comparison, FIH have 127 members and ICC only ten.

Faisal informed that FIFA releases $250,000 annually to PFF under  Financial Assistance Program (FAP) that too in various categories. PSB annual grant of Rs. 15 lacs is one of the hardship faced by the PFF not sufficient even for an event (Rs. 30 lacs alone were spent on Pakistan U23 team’s 16th Asian Games participation last November). PFF had to generate the money through other means as PFF has planned around 40 events during the year 2011 and an estimated budget to fulfil the needs is of Rs 5.5 Crore. Even with  financial constraints and sizeable annual budget Pakistan kept producing sensational results such as overwhelming Kyrgyzstan, Chinese Taipei, Turkmenistan, Singapore, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal while drawing with Iraq, Iran, Oman, China and Bahrain in recent events.