FIFA-AFC delegation to meet wrangling PFF bodies tomorrow [The News]

FIFA-AFC delegation to meet wrangling PFF bodies tomorrow [The News]

KARACHI: In an effort to resolve the long-standing dispute of Pakistan football, a joint mission of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will hold meetings with the FIFA-recognised Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah-led PFF at Lahore on Tuesday (tomorrow).

According to sources, the FIFA-AFC joint delegation will land in Lahore late Monday night. On Tuesday (tomorrow), the mission will meet FIFA-recognised PFF and Ashfaq-led PFF. The first meeting would start at around 11am, a source said.

On Wednesday, the mission will hold a detailed discussion with the FIFA-recognised body being headed by Faisal Saleh Hayat. It was also learnt that the mission will also meet Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) on Wednesday.

FIFA told this correspondent the other day that the “Members of the FIFA Member Associations team and AFC officials are part of the meeting.” This is the second time in less than four years that a FIFA mission will visit Pakistan. Earlier, the mission had visited Lahore in August 2015. After submitting its report with FIFA, the world body’s ExCo had given a mandate of two years to FIFA-recognised PFF until September 2017 to revise the PFF constitution and hold fresh elections.

However, following subsequent developments, FIFA again extended the PFF mandate to March 2020. Meanwhile, sources said that FIFA mission has refused to meet the Ashfaq-led PFF vice-president Sardar Naveed Haider.

This correspondent has learnt that the basic reason behind the decision not to meet Naveed is his recent suspension for five years as president by the Punjab Football Association (PFA) which Naveed has called as an “illegal” step.

“Because of illegal suspension orchestrated by Makhdoom against me. All intentional to ensure that I don’t open up. But they will get all information along with documents,” Naveed said when asked by this correspondent for his response in the wake of the mission’s refusal to meet him.

Ashfaq-led body has also convened a Congress on Monday (today) at 2pm at the PFF headquarters in Lahore in which the issue of Naveed and other matters relating to documents which would be presented before FIFA mission would be discussed.

FIFA mission will leave on May 30.

A highly credible source in Ashfaq-led body said that they had told FIFA that their six-member team would meet its mission. FIFA-recognised PFF secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi will brief the delegation during its meeting with it, a source said.

Pakistan’s football has been in turmoil since early 2015. The country also faced FIFA’s sanctions for few months.

After having missed a number of international events until early 2018, finally when FIFA lifted suspension following a major court decision in favour of the FIFA-recognised body, Pakistan returned to international football by fielding its national team in the 2018 Asian Games and 2018 SAFF Cup. The team also played a FIFA friendly against Palestine in Al-Ram before holding camp in Doha last December.

After Ashfaq-led body emerged as a result of the Supreme Court-ordered elections in December last year, Pakistan’s international engagements once again stopped.

Now Pakistan has held two camps for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers first round against Cambodia. One camp is being held in Bahrain under the auspices of FIFA-recognised PFF, while the other camp is being held at Jinnah Stadium Islamabad. Only FIFA-recognised PFF can field the team in the qualifiers.

Because of the dispute Pakistan also missed Olympics qualifiers in Uzbekistan in March this year.

Published in The News, 27 May 2019