Pakistan football needs to be put on right track [TNS]

Pakistan football needs to be put on right track [TNS]

by Alam Zeb Safi

Finally, FIFA has decided to appoint a normalisation committee for the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) to resolve the pressing dispute which has caused an unprecedented damage to the sport during the last five years.

The committee has been tasked to run day-to-day affairs of Pakistan football, conduct club scrutiny, and hold district, provincial and the PFF elections.

The members of the committee are yet to be appointed. After their appointment, the committee is to complete the task within nine months.

The decision came one month after a joint mission of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) held meetings with all parties at Lahore.

The decision ended the long rule of the Pakistan People’s Party politician Faisal Saleh Hayat who had been PFF chief since 2003.

However, Faisal, who is also a vice-president of AFC, can contest elections under the normalisation committee. Sources close to Faisal say he will decide this when he returns from London.

But it does not seem to be an ideal environment for Faisal to win elections again.

The newly-elected PFF executive committee would be tasked with revising the statutes of the PFF in consultation with FIFA and the AFC within one year of its elections in order to bring them in line with the requirements of FIFA and the AFC.

It means that the normalisation committee will conduct the elections according to the PFF’s current constitution.

So Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah seems to be the main candidate for the PFF presidency from Amir Dogar and Zahir Shah group.

If Faisal does not stand himself he may bring in some other candidate to contest the PFF elections.

Punjab Football Association’s (PFF) former President Naveed Haider’s presence in the future set-up is not likely. The sources said that FIFA has approved his five-year suspension by the PFA recently and he would not be able to contest elections.

However, Naveed denies this, saying his suspension had already been declared illegal by the PFF. Naved refers to the Ashfaq-led PFF of which he was the vice-president. FIFA did not recognise this PFF.

Naveed, a former ally of Faisal, left no stone unturned in damaging Faisal’s reputation. His son is also working in FIFA.

‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS) interviewed former PFF General Secretary and former Pakistan captain Col (retd) Mujahid Tareen. Excerpts from the interview are given below.

TNS: What do you think about the decision of FIFA to appoint a normalisation committee?

Mujahid Tareen: I appreciate the decision of FIFA. It is in the best interest of PFF. Both the factions should cooperate fully with FIFA if they are sincere with footballers of Pakistan.

TNS: What should the committee do in order to ensure fair and transparent elections?

MT: A similar resolution committee was formed in 1989 and 1994 but this time the mandate given to the committee by FIFA is very heavy, tedious and laborious. Previously, the committee had to conduct PFF elections only but this time it will also have to ensure scrutiny of clubs in all provinces and Islamabad before conducting elections of all districts, provinces, Islamabad, PFRA and then PFF. The committee will have to ensure fair and free scrutiny of clubs to complete the PFF elections within nine months.

TNS: How important is the club scrutiny?

MT: It is extremely important to eliminate bogus clubs and to establish a wide base of active and genuine clubs for future elections. That’s why nine months have been given to the committee.

TNS: Because of the huge cleavage in the existing system what troubles the committee may face in handling the day-to-day affairs of Pakistan football?

MT: In my opinion, the committee will have to organise domestic events keeping in view the forthcoming international events.

TNS: It is evident that the elections would be held under the existing PFF constitution. Which party in your opinion may emerge victorious?

MT: There will be very closely-contested elections at all levels.

TNS: What is the future of Faisal’s group? If Faisal himself opts out of the electoral process then whom he can bring in?

MT: The total strength of Faisal’s group is Faisal himself. If he is knocked out technically then it will be difficult for his group to win. In my opinion after 16 years rule Faisal should say good-bye honourably.

TNS: And how can Faisal manage to keep three provinces under his control in the provincial elections? Do you think it’s now the end of Faisal group?

MT: It may be difficult for Faisal group to manage elections of three provinces on merit.

TNS: What were the negatives and the positives of his 16-year-long rule?

MT: Faisal had 12 uninterrupted years. He generated a lot of activities at home and abroad. As Director Technical PFF, I was the architect but the credit goes to him to organise domestic football on the lines of the best football-playing nations. But after my resignation, he couldn’t establish an efficient team of technocrats and depended on people like Naveed.

TNS: Do you believe Naveed dug the grave for Faisal?

MT: In my opinion, Naveed’s future is doomed due to his suspension. His role was dubious and the root cause of the dirty politics. Like Faisal, he doesn’t have a football background. In my opinion Naveed’s future is in the hands of future PFF and FIFA.

TNS: Are you happy with the way Ashfaq-led PFF handled football during the last six months? Was it right to organise a camp in Islamabad to obstruct Faisal’s move to field team in the World Cup qualifiers?

MT: Ashfaq-led PFF could not perform efficiently due to groups within the group and because it did not have FIFA support. He couldn’t form an efficient team of technocrats as well.

TNS: How effective Ashfaq may be as PFF’s new president?

MT: The future president will have to establish a team of efficient technocrats to lift football which is at the rock bottom at the moment. The right man for the right job is the key to success. At the same time he will have to generate a lot of funds to manage PFF’s affairs efficiently.

TNS: Can revenge rule supreme in the post-election era?

MT: Revenge rule shouldn’t be there at all after fair and free elections. It will not be in the interest of football in the country.

TNS: Should there be tenure restriction for the PFF president?

MT: As per FIFA statutes tenure restriction should be implemented in PFF in letter and spirit.

Published in The News on Sunday, 7 July 2019