Pak football matters: Govt invites FIFA delegation to set things right [The News]

Pak football matters: Govt invites FIFA delegation to set things right [The News]

by Alam Zeb Safi

KARACHI: On the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan the federal minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Dr Fehmida Mirza has written a letter to FIFA, requesting the world body to send its delegation to Pakistan with the instructions to hold a dialogue with the stakeholders and seek a viable solution to the football dispute.

‘The News’ has learnt that FIFA has been informed by Fehmida that its appointed Normalisation Committee was not working within its parameters and was supporting a particular group for the coming elections.

FIFA has been told that the situation might lead to disaster if serious steps were not taken.

Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) legal advisor Mohammad Irfan confirmed that FIFA had been informed by Fehmida about the football situation in Pakistan. “Heaps of complaints have come on media and through various other channels against the Normalisation Committee. NC is not focussed on its mandate,” Irfan told ‘The News’ on Sunday.

“NC’s main responsibility is to hold transparent elections at various levels and it is very important to conduct them properly,” Irfan said.

“Football is a very popular game in Pakistan and is played everywhere in the country. This sport has been suffering due to the conflict,” Irfan was quick to add.

“See, because of this conflict our football team did not feature in the last year’s South Asian Games. It was a huge loss as we could have claimed a medal in that event,” Irfan said.

“The Prime Minister Imran Khan is a celebrated and great sports personality and he is very concerned about the situation of Pakistan football and its governance issues. And because of this IPC minister Dr Fehmida Mirza wrote to FIFA that we did not want to interfere in policy matters and that the government respected FIFA statutes and Olympic charter. The state believes in non-interference in the affairs of the national sports federations. At the same time, the minster has stressed in her letter that these things should be rectified so that football could be restored,” Irfan said.

“The minister has requested FIFA to send its representatives and hold a dialogue with all the stakeholders and reach a solution so that transparent elections could be held and a proper body could be formed which is trusted by all the stakeholders. Only then can the things go smoothly,” Irfan said.

“In order to prevent Pakistan’s football from further damage it’s a constructive and positive initiative from the federal minister. She is taking personal interest in football, wants a solution to the issue and is desirous to see the game progress,” Irfan said.

The letter has been copied to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

FIFA appointed NC in September 2019 with the mandate to conduct club scrutiny, and hold elections at district, provincial and national levels within nine months. However NC, headed by Humza Khan, failed to do its job. FIFA then gave extension to NC until December 31, 2020. NC now plans to hold elections of PFF by that date.

The conflict has been hurting Pakistan’s football for about five and a half years. A lot of talent has been wasted and players have faced millions of rupees financial loss.

The players who were five years ago the best national lot are now too old to impress at the international circuit. Several age-group teams missed the opportunities that could have groomed them. Four domestic seasons of the Premier League could not be held which inflicted a huge financial loss on players and officials.

Published in The News, 24 August 2020