By Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: With country after country being accused of involvement in bribes related to the ongoing FIFA corruption scandal, Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) chief Faisal Saleh Hayat denies any wrong-doings on his part.
Responding to reports circulating in the media about foul play with FIFA’s monetary assistance, the PFF president said that out of a total of eight projects under FIFA’s Goal programme, the facilities in Karachi and Lahore are up and running, while the ones in Quetta and Abbottabad are near completion.
Hayat, who has been in charge of Pakistan’s football since 2003, rejected allegations of corruption and taking money under the guise of relief work.
“The PFF has a very small part to play in FIFA anyway,” Hayat told The Express Tribune. “We aren’t exactly the movers and shakers in the region or in the international arena. The allegations of the federation for misusing funds are untrue.”
Hayat was recently accused of taking US$400,000 from South Korea’s Dr Chung Moon-Joon to allegedly vote in his favour at the 2011 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) elections.
The amount is question was actually given to the PFF as a donation from Dr Chung to build a facility in Jhang. However, the construction of the stadium never began.
According to Hayat, the donation is still in the PFF account and the federation is looking for a piece of land to begin working on the facility. “We did receive money from Dr Chung, but it was never intended as a bribe,” he added.
Hayat clarified that all over the world, FIFA Goal projects are supervised by the continental bodies and FIFA officials, while the local federation is responsible for the provision of land for the facilities.
Football in good hands since 2003: Essa
Seasoned player Essa Khan, who has witnessed the federation’s work before Hayat’s election as president, believes that there has been improvement in the local structure.
“The improvement is considerable,” said Essa. “At least now we have our team going abroad for training and the junior teams are also competing in different tournaments internationally. Plus the Pakistan Premier League also began just 11 years ago.”
Essa feels that while India have a much better professional set-up, Pakistan have come a long way. “Before 2003, there were only 16 qualified coaches in the country, today there are 300. So things aren’t all bad,” he concluded.