Questions raised about Women Football C’ship knockout stage venue [The News]

Questions raised about Women Football C’ship knockout stage venue [The News]

KARACHI: Allotting the knockout stage key matches of the 12th National Women Football Championship to Karachi United Stadium has raised many eyebrows.

According to sources who are part of the event, the Karachi United Stadium is okay for nine-a-side football, but not for proper 11-a-side game. “Its goalpost also doesn’t meet the standard,” a team source told correspondent.

Both semi-finals and the final will be held at the Karachi United Stadium. The pre-finals will be conducted on Friday (today) and the final on January 12. Punjab, Karachi United, WAPDA and Army are the semi-finalists.

Sources also said that it was wrong on the part of the organisers to let KU play all their matches of the final round at their own venue. “KU should also have been given matches at KPT Stadium or KMC Stadium,” a source of a strong team said.

The sources further revealed that Punjab played seven illegal players in the final round. They said these seven players were not included in the 23-member list of the team. Four of the seven girls are also registered with Gilgit-Baltistan. But Punjab team head coach Shahid Khan rejected the allegation, saying there was not a single illegal player in his squad. “None of our players is illegal,” he said.

The sources also said that Azeem, an official of Punjab team, who belongs to Gilgit-Baltistan, was suspended for three years by the PFF in 2018 for attacking a referee during the women’s championship.

Commenting on this issue, Punjab team manager Rana Ashraf said: “Yes, Azeem is our trainer. He does not sit on the bench. Had we known about his suspension we would not have taken him as a trainer.”

There are also rumours that KU Stadium has been given knock-out matches in an effort to manipulate the ultimate results in favour of the KU women team. The sources said that the winners of this event would get the right to vote which could be utilised in the coming PFF elections.

This correspondent tried to get input from the chairman of Normalisation Committee of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Humza Khan but he neither attended the call nor responded to a whatsapp message from this correspondent. On Wednesday, too, a senior member was contacted but he also did not respond to the query from this correspondent.

Published in The News, 10 January 2020