Pakistan’s football conflict getting worse [The News]

Pakistan’s football conflict getting worse [The News]

by Alam Zeb Safi

KARACHI: It seems Pakistan’s football issue will not be resolved anytime soon. There are many complications which have hampered the government’s plan to get the PFF headquarters vacated by the Ashfaq group.

According to sources, FIFA is likely to extend the mandate of its appointed Normalisation Committee in the hope of getting the matter resolved and the PFF secretariat vacated. The NC’s mandate is going to end on September 30.

According to sources, NC requested FIFA to extend it by six months in order to resolve the issues which need to be overcome before taking any step towards holding the PFF elections.

If given, this would be the fourth time since the appointment of NC in September 2019 that an extension will be granted. A nine-month initial mandate had been given by FIFA, which has already been extended three times.

The NC hopes that the government will soon take a solid step towards the resolution of the dispute and get the PFF headquarters vacated by Ashfaq-led PFF which came into being through the Supreme Court-ordered elections held in December 2018.

‘The News’ learnt on Wednesday that a few days ago a delegation of the Ashfaq group held a meeting with the IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza. Sources said that the minister was told in clear words by the Ashfaq group that it did not trust the existing NC under Canada-based Haroon Malik.

Sources said that the minister was told that the NC had deceived them three times in the past on the pretext of going for elections and that the group would only back the electoral process when the NC was reconstituted by FIFA and some better people were brought in.

The government has assured NC that it will get the headquarters back from the Ashfaq group. FIFA has said it will lift the suspension on Pakistan only when NC gets the PFF headquarters back. It suspended Pakistan in April.

The NC met President Arif Alvi in August at Islamabad who advised the IPC minister to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

The NC has shared its election plan with the PSB and IPC ministry. Its copies have been shared with Alvi and Prime Minister’s House.

When the Ashfaq group came into power as a result of the elections in December 2018 the PSB recognised it. However, now the PSB’s stance seems different. It has been learnt that the Ashfaq group has been denied the use of Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad for the second phase of the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL).

When this correspondent approached a source in the Ashfaq group he said it was the prerogative of the PSB to deny or allow holding an event at its venue. However, the source was quick to add that the PFF had managed a venue in Rawalpindi and very soon the second leg of the PPFL would begin there.

The first leg concluded recently at the Qasim Bagh Stadium in Multan.

Meanwhile, Zabe Khan, the CEO of Global Soccer Ventures (GSV), which entered into a long-term deal with the PFF for holding the Pakistan Football League (PFL), has met with top officials both at the federal and provincial levels. He is expected to meet President Alvi next week.

Published in The News, 23 September 2021