Faisal-led body gets PFF control back [The News/Dawn]

Faisal-led body gets PFF control back [The News/Dawn]

LAHORE: As per the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) ruling the administrator Justice (retd) Asad Munir handed over the control of the PFF headquarters in Lahore to Faisal Saleh Hayat-led PFF on Thursday.

Finally the PFF’s “legitimate” body returned to its headquarters, PFF said in a press release. After taking control of the PFF secretariat, the officials also held a press conference.

The PFF said that on the advice of the PFF’s chief Faisal, the charge of PFF was taken by senior-vice president Khadim Ali Shah, vice-president Naveed Haider and general secretary Col (retd) Ahmed Yar Lodhi.

Faisal thanked his associates and football lovers of Pakistan for their support to the “elected PFF’s restoration”, the release said. “We will soon announce the detailed plan for the development of football in Pakistan after bringing the secretariat into functional state,” Faisal said.

“I thank FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) president Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa for their continuous support to the principled stand of PFF and the football family of Pakistan,” added Faisal, who is a member of the AFC executive committee.

He also congratulated footballers, referees, coaches and members of District Football Associations (DFAs).A PFF spokesman said that PFF president had ordered an internal audit of the federation. “We will maintain the inventory to estimate the damage done to the PFF headquarters in the last three years,” Faisal said. “We will make our utmost efforts to take Pakistan football to new heights not only in the region but at the Asian level” Faisal added.

Khadim said that the football family had gone through a very difficult three years.“Thanks God it’s over now,” said Khadim, who is also the head of Sindh Football Association (SFA).

“We are hopeful FIFA will lift suspension very soon,” Khadim said. FIFA suspended PFF in October last year because of third party interference.

FIFA said that the suspension would be lifted only after the PFF control was given to the legitimate body.Naveed commented that PFF would leave no stone unturned for the revival of football activities in Pakistan.

It is pertinent to mention here that a rival group has already filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the LHC’s division bench order. According to sources, notices have already been issued but no date for hearing has been set.

Thursday’s development may open the doors for lifting of the suspension. Due to the tussle no Pakistani team has featured in any international event since April 2015. The country also missed three seasons of its premier league which left the players financially shattered.

Published in The News, 1 March 2018

Dawn’s Umaid Wasim and Mohammad Yaqoob add:

LAHORE/KARACHI: Faisal Saleh Hayat’s group has regained control of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) headquarters. Now, the body recognised by FIFA is hopeful that football’s global body will lift the ban on it.

FIFA, when it imposed the ban in October last year, had said it will lift it once the Hayat-led federation is given back control of its offices and the accounts.

They PFF headquarters, called the FIFA House, and its accounts had been under control of a court-appointed administrator since August 2015 after a dispute broke in the federation ahead of its presidential election in June that year. But after a division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) upheld Hayat’s election earlier this week, the administrator relinquished control to the PFF body on Thursday.

“This is a historic decision in our favour,” PFF secretary retired Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi told reporters after taking possession. “We are thankful to all the players, coaches, lawyers who stood with us.”

Lodhi entered the PFF office alongside senior vice-president Khadim Ali Shah and marketing consultant Sardar Naveed Haider Khan to the beating of loud drums from their supporters, who showered rose petals upon them.

“The challenge is to recover the loss to the game over the last three years,” added Lodhi. “The president has instructed us to make a comprehensive plan to promote the game and we will try to streamline the affairs in next couple of months.

However, we will need the cooperation of all the stakeholders for it.”

He informed that since FIFA had objected to the court interfering in PFF affairs, the ban would be lifted soon as Hayat had been restored.

There is also the matter of Hayat’s mandate having expired. FIFA, in September 2015, gave Hayat a two-year term to ratify the PFF Statutes and hold fresh elections.

With that term being over, there is a decision for FIFA to make over what it does when it eventually lifts the ban.

There is also a dispute regarding the election of the Punjab Football Association (PFA). That contentious provincial poll in April 2015 saw the PFF break into two factions and in its judgment the LHC also upheld the election of members of a rival faction.

And it has led to concerns how the PFF congress will now shape up. In such a case, with a dispute still there, FIFA usually installs a normalisation committee to resolve matters and hold elections.

FIFA did not respond to queries by Dawn on Thursday whether a normalisation committee would be installed once the ban is lifted.

Lodhi, however, said that it was an issue between the PFF and FIFA to deal with. “FIFA president Gianni Infantino as already congratulated Hayat after the case was won,” he informed.

Khadim, meanwhile, said that all the PFF staff would be welcomed to rejoin the federation.

“The role of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) was very positive and we are thankful to them,” he said. “We were invited to all Congress meetings and they continued to recognise us as a genuine body of the PFF. FIFA has its own rules and powers and it does not accept the interference of any court or government in its affiliated bodies.”

The rival faction, meanwhile, has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court while also seeking a suspension of the LHC order.

Lodhi, however, wasn’t concerned on Thursday. “That process will take time but crucially for now Hayat has taken charge of the FIFA House.”

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2018