FIFA advises PFF to restructure League

by Alam Zeb Safi [The News]


KARACHI: A FIFA delegation that visited Lahore a few days ago has advised Pakistan to restructure its Premier League and enhance its quality so that better players could be produced for the national duty.

FIFA experts suggested to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) to make the country’s prime event more productive by making it professional or semi-professional.

Inclusion of foreign players would increase its charm and attract bigger crowds, PFF has been told.

The PFF was also advised to launch a club structure by converting the departments into clubs.

Moreover, the authorities were also advised to organise the league matches on such grounds where large crowds could watch them.

A right piece of advice has come from the experts of the world football governing body on the right time. Keeping in view the pace with which the rest of the football world is progressing Pakistan will have to bring in drastic changes in its league structure if it wants to promote its football.

Nine long years have passed since the start of the Premier League, but not a single major change has been seen in its structure during the period which could make it result-oriented.

The whole league, carrying 16 teams, is conducted within four months and every team have to play a match on every second day, a hectic exercise. This also involves extensive traveling from one city to another, which mounts pressure on the participating units, particularly the clubs which take part in the competitions without any substantial financial support.

The shorter duration has also exposed players to multiple injuries and in the ongoing league majority of the teams have their key players on the injury-list.

But as the teams need their services they are compelled to play despite injuries and the exercise reduces their playing life.

The viewership of the league is also too low and it is due to the fact that the venues are changed frequently as per the whims of the departments without any proper rules.

Involvement of foreign players in the league will help make it healthier as it will attract crowd, which will resultantly not only allure media but also sponsors, the two key aspects for developing the system.

Departments have their fixed pay-structure according to their constitutions and will not be able to pay big money to foreign players. But if sponsors tell the departments to induct a certain foreign player for the league, promising to pay the department for him, it might be possible. But the authority of picking the player will rest with the department.

As there is no such tradition in Pakistan, it will require a strong marketing wing which could bring the sponsors for the task.

But some of the companies like Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) could hire the services of foreign players as they have resources and have already initiated a trend of hiring key players from the national circuit by offering them handsome packages.

But the advice of the delegation to initiate a club system will be difficult to follow as in Pakistan football is alive due to the contribution from departments as they spend huge money every year on their footballers.

Following the then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s instructions, several departments have included football in their priority list along with cricket.

Only a few clubs playing the top league can follow suit, because most are already facing great financial constraints.

For bringing drastic changes in the system the PFF will also have to restructure its technical wing and if a foreign technical director is recruited it will help establish a solid system viable for creating a good stuff.