KARACHI: Pakistan’s football issue is getting serious as the time progresses. The suspension from FIFA is looks imminent. Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) headquarters in Lahore and its accounts have not yet been handed over to FIFA-recognised PFF led by renowned politician Faisal Saleh Hayat.
FIFA has warned Pakistan of suspension and has said recently if the PFF headquarters and accounts were not handed over to the internationally-recognised federation by July 31, 2017, FIFA Member Associations Committee would recommend FIFA Council to suspend Pakistan.
The deadline expires on Monday (today) and nothing has been done in that direction. “The situation of the PFF was discussed by the FIFA Member Associations Committee during its meeting on July 4, 2017. It was discussed that the potential extension of the deadline (from 30 September 2017 to 30 June 2019) to revise the PFF statutes and organise elections will be conditional on the strict implementation of an action plan and a regular reporting mechanism,” a FIFA spokesman told Pakistan’s media a few days ago.
“Furthermore, the committee pointed out that while court proceedings are still ongoing the court appointed administrator continues to occupy the PFF offices and to control its accounts. Therefore, the committee decided that if the PFF offices and access to the PFF accounts are not returned to the PFF leadership led by Faisal Saleh Hayat by July 31, 2017, it would recommend to the FIFA Council to suspend the PFF for contravening its obligations under articles 14 and 19 of the FIFA Statutes,” FIFA spokesman added.
As the 37-member FIFA Council meets on September 28-29, so it is very much expected that Bureau of FIFA Council, headed by FIFA’s president, will deal with the matter. However, the decision which will be taken by the Bureau of FIFA Council will need to be ratified by the FIFA Council.
The presence of Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) president Sheikh Salman in both FIFA Council and Bureau of FIFA Council may help PFF’s cause as he is very close to Faisal Saleh Hayat.
The AFC has written to FIFA for extending the PFF’s mandate for two years. But as long as the PFF’s headquarters and accounts are not in possession of the PFF, extending the mandate will be of no use as it happened in the last two years. And that is why FIFA Member Associations Committee warned Pakistan of suspension.
In late summer of 2015, FIFA gave two years to PFF for revising the PFF statutes and holding fresh elections until September 2017 but the instructions could not be followed as neither the accounts were in possession of the PFF nor the headquarters.
If suspension is imposed, it may ensure quick resolution of the dispute as happened in Sudan recently. The ministry of IPC and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) have already distanced themselves from the dispute which has hurt careers of many a player.
Since April 2015 Pakistan has been a non-playing nation and has also failed to hold its Premier League twice. A hearing of the matter will be held in Lahore High Court (LHC) on August 7.
Following an application from PFF’s rival group, the Supreme Court on April 6 this year set aside the decision of the LHC it had given on February 2 and referred the case back to the court with instructions to decide it on merit.
Meanwhile, it is not likely that the post-disqualification phase of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will help in the resolution of the dispute.