Is it election? [The News on Sunday]

Is it election? [The News on Sunday]

By Alam Zeb Safi

There is no check and balance as far as the governance of sports in Pakistan is concerned. Mostly influential individuals rule the federations.

The general council does not have any role and the elections of the federations are mostly manipulated. The provincial bodies act like dummies, which has destroyed the whole system.

Ironically, in some sports bodies, those in authority start talking about their adherence to the international sports governing bodies and bans if their authority is challenged by any other party under the patronage of the government without remembering that they themselves became kings of their federations or sports bodies due to government’s support.

I would not talk about the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) because Pakistani media have covered extensively the cold war between that body and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) during the last four years. Here my topic is Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and its elections.

The other day a former international footballer said that the footballers of Pakistan don’t benefit from the game but the people at the top in the federation who make money and enjoy their life.

The major problem in Pakistan is that here no top official of a federation or any other sports body quits even after poor performance. They have to be expelled with force.

Last year, an official of a federation from Pakistan attended the general body meeting of an international sports governing body in India at the age of 85.

If you don’t deliver, please give chance to others, particularly the young people who are eager to deliver.

There may be a few other good things in Pakistan’s controversial national sports policy but keeping in view the moral level of our sports officials, tenure restriction clause, which is part of the policy, is absolutely necessary for the sports culture of Pakistan.

The implementation of the clause in true spirit will create opportunities for those who are capable of delivering.

Federations are not the property of individuals but these are national institutions working for the development of sports.

Seasoned politician Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat ruled the PFF for 12 long years.  No doubt, he established strong relations with FIFA and AFC. He has managed to retain his seat in the AFC Executive Committee for the next four years after he withdrew in favour of his Indian counterpart Praful Patel who got elected unopposed as vice-president for the South Asian Zone.

But in spite of his strong bonds with the FIFA and AFC, football in Pakistan is still the same. I don’t see any change in its standard. The league is the same as it was 11 years ago. And the world ranking of Pakistan always has been very low.

Faisal became the PFF chief in 2003 through government’s support. He retained his seat in 2007 when his own party PML (Q) was in power. And in 2011, he retained his seat unopposed because of his former association with the Pakistan Peoples Party and good relations of PML (Q) with the ruling PPP.

However, the 2015 PFF election does not seem to be easy for Faisal. He is set to face a stiff challenge from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Football Association’s president and former KP health minister Syed Zahir Ali Shah.

Shah has been serving as the senior vice-president of the PFF for the last 12 years. He is the right choice for the PFF top slot because of his unblemished career both as politician and KP FA chief.

The PFF election will be held on June 30.

But the road to PFF election was full of thorns. The election of Punjab Football Association (PFA) remained highly controversial. Both Arshad Lodhi Group and Sardar Naveed Haider Group claimed victory on April 17 at the FIFA Football House. However, the secretary of the electoral committee Col Farasat Ali Shah’s stance that Arshad Lodhi Group had the majority made things complicated. Farasat also said that no PFA election had been held as he postponed it after he was advised by Faisal Saleh Hayat to do so.

Farasat has been serving suspension as PFF Director Member Associations and Projects and has been issued show cause notice twice for his bold stance.

Although Naved Haider’s so-called victory has been notified by the PFF and sources said the result has also been sent to AFC and FIFA, still the things have not settled and there is a big question mark on how Naveed was declared the winner when he had only 15 votes out of 36.

Syed Nayyar Hasnain was the election commissioner of the PFA election. His role raised many eyebrows as he is the brother-in-law of Faisal Saleh Hayat.

The PFF should have provided justice to the federating units. In Balochistan Abdur Rauf Nautezai got elected as president of Balochistan Football Association (BFA), beating Haji Khalil Ahmed on toss after both the candidates had got eight votes each.

Abdur Rauf from Dalbandin is pro-Faisal and was part of the PFF delegation which went to Bahrain to attend the AFC Congress meeting as observers.

In KP Syed Zahir Ali Shah retained his seat as president KPFA after the nomination papers of JUI (F) MNA Riaz Khan were rejected on the plea that he has not been associated with football for the last two years.

To the surprise of everyone, former Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Syed Khadim Ali Shah retained his seat as president of Sindh Football Association (SFA) unopposed.

Election of Khadim Ali Shah as SFA chief is a glaring example of how football is being governed in Pakistan. Khadim Ali Shah has been the weakest president the province ever got. During the last four years as SFA chief he has been totally inactive.

Now, he has nominated two persons for the PFF council who don’t belong to the SFA council. And this has created a stir in his own council and he may face even a no-confidence move from his own house in the near future.

Initially, Captain Safdar, son-in-law of the Prime Minister of Nawaz Sharif, was expected to run for the top post but the election rules did not allow him to do so.

The election rules for the PFF president’s post say: a candidate for the office of the PFF president shall have played an active role as member PFF Congress, member PFF executive committee, PFF electoral office, AFC, FIFA for at least two of the preceding five years before being proposed as a candidate as per PFF record. Only the PFF Congress members may propose a candidate for the office of president PFF.

But in spite of all the controversies a tough battle is expected on June 30. The PFA electoral meeting was held in the absence of observers which is against the rules. The presence of observers must be ensured in the PFF elections.

Published in The News on Sunday, 3 May 2015