by Umaid Wasim
KARACHI: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) of Ashfaq Hussain Shah has been left high and dry.
After the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) confirmed last week that it had suspended funding to the PFF in the wake of a newly-elected body led by Ashfaq taking over its Pakistan affiliate on the orders of the Supreme Court at the turn of the year, global football body FIFA said on Tuesday that it has done the same.
“Due to the current situation at the PFF, FIFA can confirm that funding from the FIFA Forward programme has currently been suspended,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn. “We have no further comment on the matter and that any further updates will be communicated in due course.”
Dawn understands that FIFA’s Members Association Committee will decide further course of action.
Ahead of the election last month, FIFA had said that any election of the PFF on the orders of the Supreme Court is tantamount to “third-party interference” which is a contravention of the FIFA statutes.
It also threatened that Pakistan could be suspended for the second time in two years following the six-month ban on the PFF for the same breach from October 2017 to March last year.
In September last year, FIFA had given its recognised president Faisal Saleh Hayat a mandate till March 2020 to conduct fresh elections after reviewing the PFF statutes.
Last week, Ashfaq disclosed at a news conference that the PFF was faced with a cash crisis since taking control from Hayat, alleging that his predecessor had returned funds amounting to $530,000 back to FIFA and AFC.
Well-placed sources had told Dawn that the PFF had received $1,880,000 from FIFA and $750,000 from the AFC since March last year, when the Supreme Court restored Hayat as PFF chief whilst also ordering him to hold fresh elections following a dispute that began in 2015.
Out of that amount, the PFF had spent $2,100,000 till the end of last year, sources claimed. Ashfaq had called Hayat returning the amount to FIFA and AFC as a “criminal move” as he’d been ordered by the SC to give an account of every financial transaction by the PFF.
Both FIFA and AFC have not confirmed whether any amount had been returned to them.
Ashfaq had last week stated that his body will look to other avenues to raise funds and PFF vice-president Sardar Naveed Haider Khan confirmed on Tuesday that several options were being looked into.
“There are several plans on the table,” Sardar Naveed told Dawn. “We’re looking at domestic sponsors. One of the main plans is to launch a franchise-based inter-city league and for that naturally we’re looking at bringing some foreign players in.”
With a ban looming, Sardar Naveed was hopeful that FIFA would send a fact-finding committee to the country to confirm that last month’s PFF elections under the orders of the SC were held according to the PFF statutes.
He added that in case of a suspension, the PFF would continue to form a solid framework for the game domestically.
“It will offer us time to form a stable base locally,” said Sardar Naveed. “Strengthening the local structure will only help us when we return to international football.”