All is not well in the PFF [TNS]

All is not well in the PFF [TNS]

by Alam Zeb Safi

No one is happy with the way Normalisation Committee of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is working. Despite so many reservations expressed about the committee by different quarters, FIFA hasn’t taken any action and it shows how strongly the world body backs its appointed committee.

Neither Faisal’s group nor Ashfaq’s one is happy with the way matters are being handled. The committee has been there for almost four months, but not a single concrete step has been taken towards the PFF elections which is its primary duty.

It is yet to install committees at the provinces. FIFA appointed the committee with the objective of holding transparent elections in a neutral manner within nine months. But it seems that nothing like that is going to happen.

The committee hasn’t even disclosed its plan for club scrutiny yet. The NC chairman Humza Khan has said that the PFF audit is being conducted to pave way for FIFA funding which would enable the committee to conduct the electoral process.

Trampling all the impartiality, the NC recently sent Pakistan football team to Malaysia for a few practice games against the local clubs.

Besides the 26-member touring party, sources revealed, Ali Bahar (Sindh), Khalil (Balochistan), Zaman (Islamabad) and some NC’s secretariat staff, including acting general secretary, manager compliance and director finance, were also sent to Malaysia.

Some key players, including Mohammad Riaz and Mehmood Khan, were ignored for the tour because these players were part of Pakistan team which featured in the World Cup qualifiers against Cambodia last year.

There was no need for the Malaysian tour because there is no major event in the coming few months. It was just a joy-ride. Had the money been spent on organising a national-level event it could have been more productive as some new talent would have been discovered.

The tour seems to have been part of a particular agenda. So far every action of the committee has raised questions. Holding key matches of the 12th National Women’s Football Championship at the small Karachi United Football Stadium in Clifton also invited criticism. The committee should not have organised matches on that venue, which was dubbed by some team officials as a nine-a-side venue. If indeed it was a small venue then holding matches of the national championship was a violation of FIFA rules.

Moreover, the committee should have decided against the venue because its owner Talha Ali Zai is a friend of NC chairman Humza. Favouring Taha by giving his venue more matches which enabled Karachi United to finish as the runners-up further damaged the image of the NC.

A former senior official of Punjab Football Federation (PFF) expressed serious reservations about the selection of Punjab women team, indicating that the squad was filled with players of Gilgit-Baltistan.

With the committee yet to go ahead with the election plans there is complete silence among the various groups wanting to win the coming elections.

According to sources, a cleavage has also been created between Ashfaq Hussain and Syed Zahir Shah. A source close to Zahir Shah told me that Ashfaq is not in their plans. “We will be bringing Syed Zahir Shah as PFF president. Ashfaq is not in our plans. Previously we opted to bring him as PFF chief as a covering candidate,” the source said.

Ashfaq is also not happy with the way he was treated by his close associates when he was the PFF president. But sources close to him say that he still can play a role in the future set up.

A unification between a couple of groups is also possible. Having departmental votes, the Dogar group may also give a surprise.

Whether former FIFA Development Officer Mohsin Gilani has any role in Pakistan’s football is being strongly debated by the football experts in the background.

During a WhatsApp communication with me a few days ago, Mohsin denied any role in Pakistan football but people close to him say that he is doing his job to bring into power a particular group.

He was also seen meeting Pakistan football team at the KRL Stadium in Rawalpindi and sources told me that players were advised not to take photo of his meeting. But several sources claim that he met with the team currently touring Malaysia.

When I asked Mohsin whether he had a meeting with the Pakistan team he did not respond after seeing my WhatsApp query.

If the NC did not take positive steps towards a democratic settlement, a huge mess would engulf the country’s football. FIFA should take Pakistan’s case seriously and ensure that the NC remains neutral.

Published in The News on Sunday, 26 January 2020