by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan Olympic Association’s (POA) vice-president and former senator Syed Aqil Shah on Tuesday said that the government should ask POA to talk to FIFA to resolve the football conflict.
“The government should take an initiative so that the issue could be resolved,” Shah told ‘The News’ from Peshawar. He was quick to add that in case of any sports dispute in the country the national Olympic committee should be consulted.
“It’s the NOC which is affiliated with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC talks to the NOCs and federations and not to any other. Football is an Olympic sport and FIFA is its international body. The POA can talk to FIFA. So there is a procedure and that should be adopted,” Shah added.
FIFA suspended Pakistan last month because of third party interference. It has left a message that unless Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) headquarters in Lahore and its accounts were handed over to the federation, the suspension would not be lifted.
The matter is being heard by the Lahore High Court (LHC) and a hearing will be held on Wednesday (today).Because of the conflict between the PFF and its rival group football has seen a long lay-off. Since April 2015, no Pakistan team has toured abroad. Besides, the Premier League which is considered the major source of income for the players of departmental sides has also not been held.
POA’s legal advisor Ali Reza gave his input on behalf of the NOC in the previous hearing held a few days ago. After FIFA suspended Pakistan last month, the federal minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Riaz Pirzada told this correspondent that the government would act after the court’s verdict.
However, sources in the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) are of the view that the Board could not play any role in the resolution of the issue. The PFF is no longer affiliated with the PSB and both the bodies have already contested a case in the court.
The issue is in the knowledge of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the top military leadership. But so far no concrete step has been taken to resolve the matter. The PFF’s court-appointed administrator Asad Munir briefed a Senate committee about the PFF in Islamabad on Monday.
About the meetings of Senate Standing Committees and other parliamentary bodies, Shah said that these would be of no utility unless sports experts were invited.
“If you want to discuss a sports issue you should invite sports experts. I have been serving sports in various capacities for the last 40 years. I have been a senator and was member of its standing committee for many years. I am the POA vice-president and president of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Olympic Association. I ask why these committees don’t invite me. They should invite me. I will tell them how sports could be developed,” Shah said.
“If you keep the major stakeholders away, there will be no serious discussion on any sports subject and all such meetings will be futile,” Shah asserted. Shah, a former sports minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said that only experts could give a clear idea about what should be done.