FIFA/AFC delegation to visit Lahore from Aug 15 to 19 [Dawn]

FIFA/AFC delegation to visit Lahore from Aug 15 to 19 [Dawn]

by Umaid Wasim

KARACHI: A joint delegation of global football body FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will visit Lahore between August 15 to 19, it was disclosed on Thursday as the process to install a Normalisation Committee for the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) reaches its final stages.

FIFA also said that it will be following the visit that it will announce the composition of the committee which has the all-important task of holding fresh elections of the PFF, and ultimately bring to an end a four-year-long crisis that seen football come to a standstill in the country.

“We can confirm that FIFA and AFC delegation will visit Lahore between 15 and 19 August,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn.

“The delegation will meet with officials from the Pakistan Football Federation and different stakeholders to discuss matters related to the governance of football in Pakistan.

“A decision on the composition of the Normalization Committee will be announced in the weeks following the conclusion of the visit.”

In a landmark decision at the end of June, FIFA declared it was establishing a Normal­isation Committee which will not only be responsible for running the PFF affairs but will face a race against time in its ninth-month mandate to first conduct club scrutiny and then hold elections from the districts all the way up to the PFF presidential polls.

That decision came following another visit from a FIFA/AFC delegation at the end of May, which decided that the Normalisation Committee was the only solution to resolving the crisis in the game.

The decision of that fact-finding mission also meant FIFA had to backtrack on an earlier mandate it had given to the Faisal Saleh Hayat-led PFF until March 2020 to ratify the PFF statutes and hold fresh elections.

Hayat isn’t recognised domestically as Pakistan’s football chief. That title belongs to Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah who was elected as PFF president in an election held on the orders of the Supreme Court in December last year. That election came at the culmination of a nearly four-year legal battle over the control of Pakistan’s football but wasn’t accepted by FIFA, which in turn sent the earlier fact-finding mission.

The visit of the upcoming delegation is expected to see the FIFA and AFC officials meet with the potential candidates for the Normalisation Committee that have been put forward by the Hayat and Shah groups. The members of the committee will also be subject to eligibility checks.

Well-placed sources have told Dawn that as many as 10 names have been put forward as the members of the committee with four slots available. The chairman of the committee will be appointed by FIFA.

Sources have said that the names put forward by the Hayat group include its deputy secretary general Fahad Khan, Sindh Football Association (SFA) president Khadim Ali Shah, AFC associations committee member Khalid Latif and PFF congress member Saeed Khan.

Interestingly, if Khadim were to be selected on the Normalisation Committee, he wouldn’t be eligible to contest his SFA seat in the elections.

The names put forward by the Ashfaq group include former PFF technical director Col Mujahidullah Tareen, Taha Alizai, Sardar Tariq, Asim Dogar, Sohaib Hassan and Faisal Mirza.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2019