When will the PFF circus end? [Express Tribune]

When will the PFF circus end? [Express Tribune]

by Natasha Raheel

KARACHI: Who is responsible for the players to be missing out on the South Asian Football Federation (Saff) championship that is taking place in Maldives?

The footballers seem to be at a loss as Pakistan remains suspended from Fifa, with the officials still fighting over the control of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) headquarters.

The Fifa-appointed Normalisation Committee (NC) looks to find support with the government with the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination acting as mediator in resolving the long standing dispute that led to the Fifa suspension in April this year.

While the officials from the NC are hopeful that the IPC Minister Dr Fahmida Mirza has played a positive role in attempting to solve the never-ending political tug-of-war among the officials, Ashfaq Hussain Shah and co, who illegally took over the control of the PFF headquarters, are also praising the government.

Shah is not recognized by Fifa but he was elected as the President of the PFF in the elections that were ordered by the Supreme Court in December 2018.

He had been adamant that Fifa must change the constitution of the NC and also hold elections as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Fifa wants the group to be out of the PFF headquarters and have NC, headed by Haroon Malik, to be working in Pakistan as their representatives and hold elections on all the levels.

Shah’s body have formed a five-member committee as well that will present their case further in front of the IPC Ministry.

“I can’t say who to blame, but we are suspended by Fifa so of course the participation in Saff Championship was not possible,” said NC member Shahid Khokhar, who has also met the IPC minister throughout these mediatory meetings.

“It is bad and we have raised this issue as well in the meeting. After all, we are missing out on the international events and the players are not getting the chance to play these events at all. It is sad for all the stakeholders.”

However, the NC has also been complicit in even pushing for a quick resolution as their head is based outside of the country. Meanwhile, Khokhar is also looking after the cases against Shah and co in the Lahore High Court that the money in the PFF accounts should not be used by the group that forcefully took over the PFF headquarters.

Fifa has given another three-month extension to the NC to hold the fresh elections and take control back from Shah’s group.

The Fifa press statement on October 1 read as, “The Bureau of the FIFA Council has today decided to extend the mandate of the normalisation committee of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), which was due to expire on September 30, 2021, until December 31, 2021. The Bureau took note that the normalisation committee had been diligently monitoring the situation on the ground and achieved considerable progress on the judicial and government fronts in an effort to meet the criteria for the suspension of the PFF to be lifted.

“At present, however, the PFF’s premises continue to be occupied and the PFF therefore remains suspended. Consequently, the Bureau has decided to extend the mandate of the normalisation committee in order to allow for the administrative and legal efforts on the ground to continue, with the aim of meeting the requirements for the PFF’s suspension to be lifted so that the tasks of the normalisation committee’s mandate can be carried out.”

The question remains why the players are suffering as another year has gone by and they haven’t participated in any international event. There seems to be no one who can answer this as none of the officials and the factions or the NC wants to take accountability for their actions or complicity, despite chanting how they want Pakistan football to thrive.

Published in The Express Tribune, 8 October 2021