Stalemate continues to hurt footballers [TNS]

Stalemate continues to hurt footballers [TNS]

Despite the prolonged litigation that has wasted 22 crucial months of national footballers it does not look likely that the matter will be resolved soon because of the complex nature of the dispute that has deprived Pakistan of international action since April 2015.

A few days ago those present in the apex court said that the august court had allowed the appeal of the Arshad Lodhi Group which it had filed following the Lahore High Court (LHC) February 2, 2017, decision.

According to insiders, the apex court said that the elections of the FIFA-recognised Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) held on June 30, 2015, had been conducted despite the injunction orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC) and so were illegal. The insiders further said that the apex court itself would hold the PFF elections.

FIFA-recognised Faisal Saleh Hayat-led PFF would explain its position before the Supreme Court in the next few days, the insiders also said.

If the PFF elections are held, will FIFA recognize that body?

And there is every chance of FIFA imposing sanctions on Pakistan which would be a disaster for the country’s football. The post-sanctions period may be long and it could further waste precious time of the players who are passing through immense financial and mental problems.

In October 2015, FIFA had given two years to its affiliated PFF with the instructions to revise the constitution and hold fresh elections by September 2017. But so far nothing has been done in that direction because of various issues.

FIFA’s instruction to the PFF to revise the constitution was very important. And it showed that there was something wrong in the system which needed to be removed.

FIFA is the strongest International Federation (IF). In the less-developed countries like Pakistan, FIFA invests a lot. It has been the key financier of Pakistan football.

The issue needs a viable solution so that the country’s football could be resumed. It would be a herculean task for Pakistan to repair the damage which the game has received in the past two years.

Various age-group teams of Pakistan have been deprived of featuring in international events during these two years which has endangered the players’ future.

Besides having missed international events, the country also failed to hold its Premier League for two successive years. Some departments offer around Rs4000 daily allowance to their players during the league which lasts for four months. And on an international tour a player used to earn 100 US dollars per day which would supplement his salary from his department. We should think for the future of the players who mostly have poor background. We should not think who should rule the PFF. The PFF is nothing without the players.

Most of the players are uneducated and when doors of football are closed for them, they don’t know what to do. Football is their bread and butter and it is difficult for them to survive without it. These aspects of the life of the players need deep consideration.

The issue started with the controversial elections of the Punjab Football Association (PFA) in April 2015. After a series of happenings, the PFF suspended 20 members of the Punjab football body. Arshad Lodhi group then convened an extraordinary meeting of the so-called PFF Congress in Islamabad and suspended the PFF president Faisal Saleh Hayat and sacked the PFF secretary Col Ahmad Yar Lodhi. After a few days, in June 2015, Arshad Lodhi group occupied the PFF headquarters in Lahore. All the accounts of the FIFA-recognised PFF were frozen. Despite a stay order, Faisal group held elections in Changla Galli in the presence of observer of Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

The elections, however, later were declared null and void by the LHC single bench which also appointed Asad Munir as the PFF administrator with the former justice drawing a handsome salary of Rs450,000 per month.

FIFA in August 2015 sent a fact-finding mission which met both the groups in Lahore. FIFA then decided to give two years to Faisal group in which it was to revise its constitution and hold fresh PFF elections.

In last summer, LHC dismissed the petitions of the PFF it had filed against the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) in which it had challenged the legal entity of the Board. The PFF then filed an intra-court appeal. On February 2 the LHC division bench dismissed the petitions of the PFF on the ground that these were not maintainable as the appellant was not a legal person. And now the apex court has been moved that allowed Arshad Lodhi group appeal besides giving several other major decisions.

The issue should be resolved in such a manner which supports the future of the players. Football has a great market in Pakistan and it should be secured at every cost.

Published in The News on Sunday, 5 March 2017