by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the FIFA-recognised Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) to hand over control of the federation to the newly-elected body, which is headed by Ashfaq Hussain Shah, within one week.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and Justice Ijaz-ul-Hasan heard the case at Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry on Monday.The Returning Officer Amir Salim Rana, who is also the Director General of the Human Rights wing of the apex court, had conducted the elections on December 12 in Islamabad.
The apex court rejected all election-related objections of the FIFA-recognised PFF which was represented by its legal counsel Afzal Khan.
The newly-elected body had sent a three-member delegation to the PFF’s headquarters in Lahore a few days ago for assuming charge, but the FIFA-recognised PFF’s General Secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi denied them the charge, telling the delegation that the PFF would do so only if ordered by the apex court.
According to FIFA-recognised PFF sources, the federation will go for review.It is not yet clear how long the newly-elected body will be in office. Vice president Sardar Naveed Haider said that the new body had been formed for a full term of four years.
“The elections have not been held for the remaining period but for a complete four year-tenure until 2022,” Naveed told ‘The News’ after the Supreme Court order.
The PFF had held its elections in June 2015 which were later upheld by the Lahore High Court (LHC) before the Supreme Court ordered fresh elections for both the Punjab Football Association (PFA) and PFF early this year.
FIFA gave time to Faisal Saleh Hayat-led PFF until March 2020 with the instructions to revise the PFF constitution and hold fresh elections.
FIFA had first given the PFF until September 2017 following a report submitted by its fact-finding mission which visited Lahore in mid-2015, months after the dispute emerged between the PFF and its rival group over the controversial elections of Punjab Football Association (PFA).
FIFA at that time, too, had advised the PFF to revise its constitution and hold fresh elections. But as the headquarters and accounts were in control of the rival group, the PFF failed to follow FIFA’s instructions. Following the Supreme Court’s Monday order, Ashfaq’s team will start working on the matter from Wednesday (tomorrow).
“We will start working on it from Wednesday,” Naveed said. “We will meet former PFF General Secretary Col Lodhi and discuss with him smooth transfer of the PFF control to the newly-elected body,” said Naveed, also the president of PFA.
“We will take full control. I hope it will be a smooth process,” said Naveed, who was also present at the hearing.He said that they would be writing a letter to FIFA, telling it that the newly-elected PFF would work on the revision of the constitution as per the world body’s instructions.
Naveed said that they would not stop the ongoing Premier League.“We will send our team to Karachi next week to take control of the league. We have requested Pakistan Football Referees Association (PFRA) president Qazi Asif to visit Karachi,” he added.
The 14-team league is in its last stage.Because of the conflict, FIFA had suspended Pakistan last year. The sanctions were lifted early this year when Faisal-led body was given back control following the LHC order.
A few days ago, FIFA hinted at suspending Pakistan football body. “Should elections at the PFF take place on a date that is imposed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, this would be considered undue influence in the sense of the FIFA Statutes. Consequently the matter would then be presented to the relevant FIFA bodies for consideration and possible action, which may include the suspension of the PFF,” FIFA told this correspondent on December 5.