We have written to FIFA about election: Pirzada [The News]

We have written to FIFA about election: Pirzada [The News]

By Alam Zeb Safi,

KARACHI: Federal minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Riaz Hussain Pirzada on Thursday revealed that the ministry had written to FIFA regarding the electoral controversy in Pakistan’s football.

“When the controversy got complicated a few days ago we wrote to FIFA about the electoral irregularities and the litigation as several petitions have been filed,” Pirzada told ‘The News’ on Thursday.

“We told FIFA that they should come and hold the PFF elections under their own supervision and prevent the situation from further deterioration.

“We told FIFA if our ministry interfered we would be blamed by the international bodies. So it would be better if FIFA itself intervened,” Pirzada said.

He ruled out the possibility of setting up an ad hoc system. “We cannot impose an ad hoc setup as the matter is in the court. We will uphold the court orders because the law of the land comes first,” Pirzada said.

The minister reiterated that his ministry was neutral in all such affairs. “We are not interfering at all,” he stressed.

“Faisal Saleh Hayat has challenged national sports policy and the matter is still in the court. Faisal does not accept tenure-restriction clause of the policy,” he said.

A few days ago Pirzada had told this correspondent if PFF elections were not held fairly the ministry would have to step in and impose an ad hoc body.

He strongly reacted to PFF’s decision to conduct its elections despite the court order. “It is sheer contempt of court as Lahore High Court (LHC) had restrained both parties from holding elections. As per court instructions we had also intimated the stakeholders about the court’s restraining order,” Pirzada said.

“Several other petitions along with our case with the PFF have been gathered with one judge of LHC and we are waiting for the outcome,” the minister added.

He was not happy with the way the IPC ministry was ignored in the electoral process. “We were not taken into loop during the process,” he said.

He also disclosed that Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif did not know about the football imbroglio. “I had told Shehbaz Sharif about the unfortunate development in football and ongoing struggle in the football fraternity. He told me that it was not in his notice,” the minister said.

On June 29, LHC restrained both factions of PFF from holding elections until the outcome of the petitions challenging the vires of different actions taken by different actors involved in the controversy.

But on the plea that they had not received any notice of the court, PFF held its elections near Changla Gali on June 30.

Faisal was re-elected for the fourth successive four-year term. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Director Member Associations and Development Sanjeevan Balasinggam was present in the elections as observer.

Meanwhile, the PFF has not so far notified the result to FIFA. “At the time of writing we have not been officially notified by the PFF,” FIFA spokesman told ‘The News’ on Thursday.

This correspondent tried to contact PFF secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi but he did not receive the calls.

Following the stay order, Zahir Shah group did not hold elections which it had planned.

After a controversial April 17 Punjab Football Association (PFA) elections and the subsequent life ban imposed on 20 PFA members by the PFF for allegedly forming a parallel body, Faisal’s rival group on June 16 convened a PFF extraordinary congress meeting in Islamabad, in which Faisal was suspended and Lodhi was dismissed. Arshad Lodhi was made acting president and former PFF official Col Farasat Ali Shah acting secretary.

Both Arshad and Farasat assumed the charge after taking over the PFF secretariat on June 20.

This correspondent learnt on Thursday that the PFA’s senior officials Rana Ashraf and Anees Ahmed Khan Lodhi were preparing to file a contempt of court petition against PFF for holding elections despite the stay order. The hearing of the cases will be held on July 6.