Pakistan football on brink of international suspension [The News]

Pakistan football on brink of international suspension [The News]

by Alam Zeb Safi

KARACHI: Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah-led Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) took back the control of the PFF headquarters and accounts from the FIFA-installed Malik Haroon-led Normalisation Committee on Saturday.

The dramatic development seems to have put Pakistan on the brink of suspension from FIFA. It has also put in uncertainty the fate of the National Women Football Championship.

The development happened hours after the ExCo and Congress meetings of the Ashfaq-led PFF in Islamabad on Friday. In the meeting they had shown dissatisfaction over the way NC had been working.

Ashfaq-led PFF had handed the PFF control to FIFA-installed NC in September 2019.

“The PFF office was attacked in Lahore by Ashfaq Shah and his group,” the PFF NC alleged in a statement. “Sardar Naveed Haider Khan was also present with the attackers. The PFF staff physically harassed and were held hostage. The group has taken over the PFF house,” it added.

But Naveed told ‘The News’ he went there only after Ashfaq had reassumed control of PFF.

Malik Haroon said that it was scary. “It was something scarry,” the seemingly disturbed Haroon told ‘The News’.

“They stormed my room at around 1:30pm and started shouting. I told them to give me two minutes. I told them ‘let’s sit in the auditorium and talk’. Led by Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah they told me that they have decided to take possession,” Malik alleged.

“I said ‘how it can happen as it will have grave implications over Pakistan’s football if FIFA suspends Pakistan’. They said they will handle the things. I told them let’s think before we do any adventurism. They said ‘hand over and leave’,” Malik alleged.

“My whole staff was physically harassed. As the glass door, the exit door, had been locked I broke the glass and exited the house. It was quite unfortunate,” Malik said.

“Our lawyer is handling the things. I am in contact with FIFA. Currently I am very much depressed,” said Malik.

Asked whether they had weapons with them Malik said he was very much depressed and cannot say with certainty about weapons.

Ashfaq rubbished the statement of Haroon, saying he was telling lies. “We neither harassed Malik Haroon nor anyone else was in the PFF headquarters,” Ashfaq told ‘The News’.

“We gave Haroon all the respect. We went to meet him today and handed him the letter that we have got a mandate from the PFF Congress and ExCo to reassume the PFF charge. I told him that we had given NC the charge in good faith in September 2019 with the hope that it would hold the PFF elections in a fair and transparent way within the FIFA mandate. But it did not do anything in the past 18 months. Neither Humza (former NC chief) could do anything in 15 months, nor Haroon could do anything in the last four months,” Ashfaq said.

“Malik told us to give him some time. He went to his room and we waited for quite some time. Then I all alone went to meet him in his room and told him that under the directives of the PFF ExCo and Congress we are going to reassume the charge. We had handed charge to former NC chairman Humza Khan in a very cordial way in September 2019 and he (Haroon) should reciprocate by giving us charge back in the same manner. But he did not accept. I requested him five times. Then he himself picked up his bag and started leaving. When he went down, the glass door was shut and he broke the glass and exited. Is this a civilized way?” Ashfaq said.

“We had 20 people with us and had our intention been to harass him then he could not have left but we did not want any such unpleasant thing. Our people are filing case in the police station,” Ashfaq said.

About the national women event being held in Karachi, Ashfaq said that the Exco would decide whether to continue with it or stop it.

Ashfaq said that they are ready to meet FIFA. “Yes we are ready to meet FIFA. I will tell FIFA that I have written 14 letters to it during the last few months but the world body did not even reply,” Ashfaq said.

FIFA in September 2019 installed NC under Humza Khan by giving it the mandate to hold the PFF elections until June 2020. However it did not meet the mandate. FIFA then extended it until December 31, 2020 but again nothing was done towards elections. Humza in the meantime resigned. FIFA recomposed NC and brought in Haroon in January as its chairman. A few days ago he had told media that the election roadmap would be unveiled by the second week of April.

Published in The News, 28 March 2021