Uncertainties Galore [TNS]

Uncertainties Galore [TNS]

by Alam Zeb Safi

There is uncertainty around the intent of the government regarding handing over the PFF headquarters to the Normalisation Committee. It was expected that by the first week of January it would be handed over. It had been decided in the meeting of the top government functionaries and the NC and a federal minister had directed the concerned sports wing of the IPC that the facility, which these days is in control of the Punjab government, should be handed over to the FIFA-appointed NC.

However, it was agreed during the meeting that the IPC minister should be communicated as she was abroad — she is still there — and then the handover process be undertaken. I don’t think it is an issue that without the physical presence of the IPC minister the handover process cannot be undertaken.

It was around one month back that the meeting was held. Time is passing fast. Our football has completely stopped. There are major events ahead like Asian Games and this matter needs immediate resolution. I hope things will be done promptly.

We cannot see any more damage to the game of football. We saw it being brutally killed by individuals with vested interests during the last six years or so. Where are those people who have caused huge damage to the game? I don’t think there is one or two individuals who damaged this game over the years but we all are responsible for the demise of the beautiful sport which has a huge following in the country.

Yes, the government may face issues as the lease of the house has been cancelled. If it is cancelled then a question arises with whom the government will then enter into a fresh agreement. Another thing is if the PFF secretariat lease has been cancelled then why the Punjab government has got all the lease dues from the PFF until 2018.

A few days ago, a senior official of Balochistan Football Association (BFA) told me in an interview that he feels that the government wants a role in the election process which he said is not possible because FIFA does not allow any third party to interfere in the internal affairs of its affiliated associations.

He fears that it is not so easy to resolve this issue. There are several complications on the road to resolution.

Some internal sources also told me that there are a few elements, not all, in the government whose intent looks dubious. Another issue is that there has been no written commitment between government and NC that the PFF headquarters will be handed over. It was all a verbal commitment.

There is nothing bad in it if the government also takes Ashfaq group into confidence before handing over the PFF headquarters to NC whose mandate has already been extended by FIFA until June 30, 2022. The group plans if the state does not take them into confidence they will file a contempt of court petition against it. I think these issues can be resolved amicably before undertaking the handover process which in that case will be fairly durable and NC then will be in a strong position to do its job of holding elections at various levels.

NC chairman Haroon Malik had been specifically invited from Canada for the meeting and it was clear that the handover process would be conducted soon. After waiting for so long I think Haroon has returned to Canada.

A couple of times a PSB source also confirmed to me that they will be handing over the secretariat to NC soon. But so far that time has not come. All NC members and the entire football community are waiting for that day when football returns to Pakistan and FIFA ban is lifted. FIFA suspended Pakistan for third party’s interference in the first week of April after Ashfaq group ignored its deadline which the world body had given to it to vacate the PFF headquarters.

The suspension would be lifted only when headquarters was handed over to NC. The first task of NC after regaining access to the headquarters will be club registration and scrutiny and it should work for that from now as there will be a huge pressure on it and it will have to hold elections within the agreed time-frame. Let’s hope things go in the right direction.


Published in The News on Sunday, 23 January 2022