Save us footballers: Saadullah requests PFF, FIFA [Express Tribune]

Save us footballers: Saadullah requests PFF, FIFA [Express Tribune]

by Natasha Raheel

KARACHI: Pakistan national team midfielder Saadullah and coach Shahzad Anwar feel that country’s probable suspension by FIFA will makes matters worse for them and the sport.

FIFA’s Member Association Committee has decided in their July 4 meeting that Pakistan can be suspended from July 31 if the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) President since 2003 Makhdoon Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat does not get the control back from the Lahore High Court (LHC) appointed administrator Asad Munir by July 31. Pakistan has been in violation of article 14 and 19 for Fifa Statutes.

“It is just bad and we don’t know exactly what to say anymore,” national player Saadullah told The Express Tribune. “We were already not getting to play for two years. We are facing problems in scoring trials to play in smaller clubs abroad, and the probable suspension will now mean that we won’t be able to get out of here.”

Saadullah has been planning to go to Thailand for trials but the July 31 deadline seems to be a heartbreaker for his dreams.

“All I want to say is save us. My appeal to the authorities, FIFA, LHC, PFF officials, the government, everyone is that please think about us. We are suffering already, and this suspension would mean we can’t even go play somewhere else. The fact that our national team hasn’t played for two years and we’ve had no domestic league itself is embarrassing. For once take your decisions keeping the players in mind,” Saadullah added.

The PFF controversy began in April 2015, with the accusations of rigged Punjab Football Association results and later the officials broke into two rival groups and the matters were taken to the court. Hayat was already contesting a case against the National Sports Policy that stated that the office bearers cannot stay for more than two terms.

With a strong backing from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Hayat managed to hold the elections in June 2015, in the presence of an AFC official, and despite the LHC’s orders of declaring the PFF polls null-and-void, FIFA kept their support with Hayat and gave his tenure a two-year extension. They sent a three-member team to Pakistan to hold fresh elections in two years’ time as well as updating PFF statutes according to FIFA’s instructions.

However, they claim that they could not work because the administrator has the hold over PFF offices and accounts.

FIFA again came through and asked PFF that it needs to operate independently without a third party intervention or else they will face a suspension.

Anwar, who has been on the go to become the first Pakistani coach to have an AFC Pro license said that it has only gotten embarrassing for him, and the work opportunities have become limited because of the PFF situation.

“I go to the AFC coaches workshops that take place for refreshers courses and the colleagues actually say, where am I going to practice my skills if there is no football in Pakistan,” said Anwar. “I went to Brazil, I’ve worked there but the suspension would mean a full-stop to whatever little that we are doing. And the players have suffered the most, I tried to speak for them to get them trials abroad, but everyone says the same thing that we don’t a football team playing internationally, there is no league at home, so the players aren’t good enough. Who knows how long this suspension will last?”

Published in The Express Tribune, 15 July 2017