A major breakthrough? [TNS]

A major breakthrough? [TNS]

by Alam Zeb Safi

And eventually football matters are set to be resolved in the next two weeks. The IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza announced at a news conference in Islamabad on Thursday that in two weeks the PFF headquarters will be handed over to the Normalisation Committee which has been working since September 2019. IPC ministry has already written a letter to the Punjab government, saying that the PFF headquarters should be handed over to the NC.It’s a huge breakthrough. The credit, no doubt, goes to Dr Fehmida Mirza. She acted as a mediator and engaged four factions and NC in order to reach a decision. And, finally, she has announced a positive outcome while addressing a joint press conference with the NC’s chairman Haroon Malik.

The Prime Minister Imran Khan’s role is also praiseworthy as he had advised the IPC’s minister that she was independent and she should decide the matter on merit.

After the headquarters are handed over to NC, the committee will try to take in possession also the digital and physical assets of the Secretariat. Then FIFA will be written a letter and the world body will lift the suspension. As already has been advised by FIFA, NC will then start working towards the PFF elections, which Haroon said will be held in 163 days as per the PFF Constitution.

Haroon said that the mandate will be executed with complete transparency and maximum speed. The first step will be the club registration and scrutiny. It will be the most important step and NC hopes that the government will also back the committee on ground to conduct the process smoothly.

It has been learnt that Haroon Malik has already given tasks to NC’s members and preparations are being made. Pakistan has been facing FIFA’s ban since April last year when Ashfaq group occupied the PFF’s headquarters in Lahore.

This is good news indeed for the football stakeholders and particularly for the footballers whose careers were dented during the last six years of uncertainty. With the outcome a hope has been created. NC will also be responsible for sending national teams for featuring in international events as day-to-day affairs handling is also its responsibility.

NC’s mandate has already been extended until June 30, 2022, by FIFA. The Asian Games is the biggest event which will be held in China from September 10-25. NC will have to communicate with the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) to ensure Pakistan’s team entry in the Games.

Pakistan has been consistently featuring in the Asian Games for the last several decades. And on some occasions, it gave tough times to the tough oppositions.

Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Col (retd) Mohammad Asif Zaman has also played a sincere role in the resolution of the matter. Once the issue is resolved and the electoral process starts all the stakeholders should cooperate with NC. This will be a golden opportunity to pave the way for elections which could safeguard football future in the country. It is time we felt something for our footballers, who have faced massive financial damages during the last few years.

NC should also work with sincerity and focus on the electoral process so that the elections could be held and the PFF affairs could be handed over to the newly-elected Executive Committee. Ashfaq Group also should cooperate with NC. Any further confrontation will be a huge disappointment for all the football community as everyone wants to see football activities back and wants Pakistani teams to feature in international events.

Pakistan football faced huge losses during the last few years. The nation missed several international events besides not holding its domestic league. It also could not avail itself of full funding of the AFC and FIFA because of this issue.

We wasted our several age-group batches and those players who were in their prime six years ago are now in the twilight of their careers. This will be a new dawn for our football. The Punjab government now also should play its role and immediately hand over the headquarters to NC. Hope sanity prevails now. It’s big, big news for Pakistan’s football, indeed.


Published in The News on Sunday, 6 February 2022