Prejudice continues in football [TNS]

Prejudice continues in football [TNS]

by Alam Zeb Safi

After recruiting secretariat staff without giving advertisements and appointing coaches and officials without merit, the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee continues to violate rules and regulations. The committee has been found taking biased decisions and there is no check on it from FIFA.

The other day, through a notification, it announced NCs for Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Football Associations in which gross irregularities can be identified. Certain people have been named in these provincial committees who have direct links with a particular group which aims to win the PFF elections.

If they are not removed, the committees won’t serve their purpose.

In late September last year, FIFA gave the NC nine months to hold elections of the PFF. How can NC, which has so far not taken a single right decision in the last five months, go for neutral elections?

The biased decisions of the PFF NC will create a huge issue in provinces. Stakeholders may go to courts to get stay orders and that will further complicate the situation. NC’s members are enjoying huge perks and privileges and don’t care for what they are doing as the committee is being patronised by a person who has strong links with both FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

During my interaction with FIFA’s senior official Alex Gros I said that the world body has not taken a good decision by appointing Humza Khan as PFF NC’s chairman. Humza does not seem to have been in the driving seat and some others are handling the affairs.

The NCs for Punjab Football Association (PFA) and Islamabad Football Association (IFA) were also announced the other day. Irregularities were found in the composition of these committees also.

Naved Akram, Khan Malik, Rizwan Asif, Aneeq-ur-Rehman, Moazzam Ali Khan and Shoukat Ali Khan form the six-member committee for PFA. Mohammad Zaman, Syed Muqbil Hussain Naqvi and Ghulam Mujtaba are members of the IFA.

Moazzam, part of the PFA committee, is said to be closely associated with Hafiz Salman Butt, a former PFF secretary who is supporting Zahir Shah. A well-connected source told me that Shoukat, also member of the PFA NC, is close to the PFF NC member and former PFF secretary Col Mujahid Tareen.

Interestingly, Zaman and Muqbil, who are part of the body announced for Islamabad, served as vice-presidents of the last set-up of the IFA which is backing Zahir Shah.

I again request FIFA to prevent the NC from taking such biased decisions. How can it name Zahir Shah’s secretary in the KP NC? And how can it name the friend of a former PFF ExCo (which was led by Ashfaq Hussain) member in Sindh’s NC?

It should remove the names of these controversial figures.

A senior football official of Balochistan in a message to me said that one-sided decisions are being taken. He said that they would resist such steps strongly and would not allow PFF NC to favour a particular group.

The PFF NC said that with the formation of provincial NCs all the previous associations stand dissolved. “FIFA had set up the PFF NC with effect from September 17, 2019. As of that date, all provincial, regional and district football associations had accordingly ceased to exist. However, certain provincial associations have continued to operate and in some cases have taken decisions in violation of the PFF NC directives (in relation to which disciplinary action will separately be initiated). This is to confirm that all provincial, regional and district associations stand dissolved,” the PFF NC said.

“With effect from the date of this directive all the matters relating to football affairs and elections in their respective provinces and regions will be managed by the provincial/regional NCs,” it added.

“Members of the remaining provincial/regional FAs will be announced in due course. But it is reiterated that all previous provincial and regional associations stand dissolved,” the PFF NC said.

“The chairmen and secretaries of the dissolved bodies should hand over all records . . . bank accounts, statements, cheque books . . . to the respective provincial/regional NCs . . .,” the PFF NC said.

“The secretaries of the provincial/regional FAs who should also have previously ceased to act will in any event also cease to act as such and the provincial/regional NCs may appoint secretaries on the their discretion,” it said.

The PFF NC has also appointed Manizeh Zainli as Secretary General with immediate effect. “Ms Zainli has 15 years of experience in top management,” the PFF NC release said. However, it added that Haris Jamil Alam would continue in his role as Deputy Secretary General.

The NC has also formed disciplinary and appeal committees. The disciplinary committee comprises Omar Soomro (chairman), Faisal Grewal and Syed Amin Fakir. Aizaz Ahsan (chairman), Kashif Mayo and Mamnoon Chaudhry form the appeal committee.

Ask former FIFA referee Ahmed Jan and he will tell you how NC is working. “It is a fact that NC has so far not done anything praiseworthy. It has been left unbridled at the mercy of Humza Khan and Taha Ali Zai. I request FIFA to check the performance of NC and take action against it if it is found violating discipline,” Ahmed told ‘The News on Sunday’ in an interview.

He also strongly criticised the appointment of a lady secretary. “It is a poor decision. Is there not a single person among football people who could become the PFF NC Secretary?” Ahmed said.

“NC’s members are taking Rs600,000 each per month and have so far failed to even hold a single football event. It held a women national event and that too on a nine-a-side pitch at Clifton. How can a FIFA-appointed NC do this and how can it violate rules of the body under whose orders it has been created,” Ahmed Jan said.

He said the referees appointed for that women event did not know how to blow a whistle.

He also strongly criticised Karachi United owner Taha Ali Zai for making money in the name of young footballers of Lyari.

Taha is a friend of Humza and was a strong supporter of Ashfaq-led PFF. He also served as its legal counsel.

“Has Humza Khan played football? He is dreaming to become PFF king. He will have to leave the country one day and run away,” Ahmed said.

Published in The News on Sunday, 1 March 2020