FIFA mission meets Pakistan’s football officials [The News / Dawn]

FIFA mission meets Pakistan’s football officials [The News / Dawn]

LAHORE: The joint FIFA-AFC fact-finding mission on Tuesday met with the football officials in the country before it presents its findings to the global and Asian football bodies on which officials should be leading the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).

The mission met representatives from the Ashfaq Hussain Shah-led PFF, the group recognised in the country as the legitimate one following an election held by the Supreme Court in December, and the group led by Faisal Saleh Hayat, who is recognised by FIFA as the PFF chief.

The mission, headed by FIFA’s member associations manager Luca Nicola, had meetings of two hours each with the two groups.

From the Hayat faction, secretary retired Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi, deputy secretary general Fahad Khan, finance director Nadia Naqvi and head of league and media Shahid Khokhar appeared before the mission.

No congress member from the Ashfaq-led PFF appeared before the mission following an emergency Congress held earlier in the day which took that stance after the mission had refused to meet vice-president Sardar Naveed Haider Khan after the Hayat faction claimed he was suspended.

Sardar Naveed was a former Hayat ally who deserted him after the country’s apex court announced fresh elections of the PFF following a three-year legal battle for control of the country’s football governing body.

Lawyers Taha Alizai and Chahudhry Zulfiqar met the mission on behalf of the Ashfaq-led PFF.

“Although both are lawyers, they both have direct links with football since Taha runs Karachi United FC and Zulfiqar was ex-president of the Lahore District Football Association,” Ashfaq told Dawn, defending the move of sending their legal representatives to meet the mission.

Ashfaq claimed that the mission had suggested fresh elections of the PFF under a normalisation committee set by FIFA and said his group was willing to take part in those polls.

The Hayat faction denied that the mission made any proposals for fresh elections, adding that FIFA’s member associations committee had already decided that polls couldn’t be held before March 2020.

The Hayat faction is due to meet the Hayat faction against on Wednesday when it will also meet officials of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA).

There are reports that the POA would be part of the fresh elections but Ashfaq said they wouldn’t accept the POA’s role since it is leaning towards Hayat.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2019

The News adds:

KARACHI: A four-member joint mission of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Tuesday held meetings with the teams of FIFA-recognised Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and Ashfaq Hussain Shah-led PFF at Lahore.

The mission reached Lahore Monday night via different flights. The mission, which is headed by Head of MA Governance FIFA Luca Nicola, includes Senior Manager MA Governance and Services FIFA Alexander Holt, Deputy Director Legal AFC Andrew Mercer and Senior MA Manager AFC Purushotam Kattel.

At 12 pm on Tuesday, a four-member FIFA-recognised PFF headed by its General Secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi briefed the mission in a meeting which lasted for one and a half hours. Lodhi was assisted by Director Finance Nadia Naqvi, Manager Clubs and League Shahid Khokhar and Deputy General Secretary Fahad Khan.

This correspondent learnt that the mission was thoroughly briefed about what had happened since 2015.The 2018 PFF elections held under the instructions of Supreme Court also came under discussion.

The subjects of state interference and manipulation of departments, and the government’s violation of the MoU which it signed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were also highlighted. At 2pm, Ashfaq-led PFF’s two-member legal team, comprising Chaudhry Zulfiqar and Taha Ali Zai, briefed the mission.

The meeting lasted for three hours.

Earlier, Ashfaq-led body had sent a six-member list to FIFA for meeting with the mission comprising president, three vice-presidents and two legal advisors.

However, the emergency Congress of the body on Tuesday decided with consensus that only Taha and Zulfiqar should present the case of the body before the FIFA mission.

‘The News’ learnt that Ashfaq’s team presented its case vigorously and with documentary proofs. The mission was informed about the 2018 PFF elections and the PFF elections of 2015 held in Changla Galli.

The mission was told that the quorum was not complete in 2015 elections.

The mission was also presented with the documents regarding the alleged corruption of the FIFA recognised PFF and other related issues, sources said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the other day the mission had refused to meet Ashfaq-led PFF vice-president Naved Haider because of his suspension by the Punjab Football Association (PFA), which he headed for the last four years.

When asked whether it was a partial boycott that only the legal team was sent to meet the mission, a senior official of the Ashfaq-led body said there was no boycott and it was the decision of the Congress to let its legal team present its case.

“Faisal has also sent his secretary and others to meet the mission,” the official said.

Some of the close aids of Ashfaq-led body were not happy with the decision to send only the legal team for talks with the mission.

“In my opinion Ashfaq should have met with the mission,” a source, very close to Ashfaq-led PFF, said.

The mission will hold another session with the FIFA-recognised PFF on Wednesday (today). It will also meet representatives of Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) on Wednesday (today).

Some Congress members of PFF are also expected to meet the mission on Wednesday.

A FIFA delegation visited Pakistan in August 2015, just months after the conflict started between the FIFA-recognised PFF and its rival group.

In October the same year, FIFA ExCo decided to give two years to FIFA-recognised PFF until September 2017 to revise the PFF Constitution and hold fresh elections. However, due to subsequent series of incidents, FIFA extended the PFF mandate to March 2020.

Published in The News, 29 May 2019

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LAHORE – The FIFA fact-finding mission headed by Luca Nicola arrived here on Tuesday night to find out the current situation of football in Pakistan.

First, FIFA-recognized PFF led by Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat met with the mission to brief it the background and current situation of football in Pakistan while later, the PFF formed through the elections held under Supreme Court orders also met the mission through their lawyers only.

The FIFA-recognized PFF delegation was headed by its general secretary Col (r) Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi and during its meeting with mission, it informed them about the background of football disaster in Pakistan and PFF’s position on the current situation.

It is pertinent to mention here that no elected official of the PFF met with FIFA delegation because they refused to meet its vice president Naveed Haider, who was suspended first by the executive committee of Punjab Football Association for one year and then recently by the overwhelming majority of its congress for five years.

The international body’s refusal to meet the suspended Sardar Naveed Haider has exposed their false claims, since the last many months, they were trying to prove that they were in touch with FIFA/AFC and that the mission is coming at their behest, the sources said.

The sources further said that the Ashfaq-led PFF had no answer to the logical queries and legal questions put forth by the FIFA/AFC mission and as such were left totally high and dry viz-a-viz the international body’s clear regulations governing its member associations.

“Ashfaque and allies had claimed that FIFA mission is coming on their invitation. If it is true why they didn’t meet the mission, when it is here in Pakistan. It shows their claims were false,” the sources added.

They said that no international authority recognizes the body formed through the election held on courts order. “FIFA has already given the roadmap that the elections after following the due process and review the statutes of the PFF will held in March 2020. There is no chance of any election before fulfillment of that roadmap,” they added.

The FIFA mission has been in Pakistan for two days to reach to the facts, why the situation in Pakistan reached to this turmoil stage.

Published in The Nation, 29 May 2019