FIFA suspension set to be lifted as NC regains control of PFF headquarters [Dawn]

FIFA suspension set to be lifted as NC regains control of PFF headquarters [Dawn]

MALAM JABBA: The long, drawn-out negotiations have finally yielded the desired result for Pakistan football.

The FIFA suspension on Pakistan is set to be lifted after the Normalisation Committee appointed for the Pakistan Football Federation by the sports governing body was handed back possession of the PFF headquarters on Saturday, almost a year after it was forced out of it.

After the court-elected PFF led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah seized control of the headquarters at the end of March last year, the Haroon Malik-led NC had been in talks with the government — in particular Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr. Fehmida Mirza — to resolve the latest crisis in the country’s football governing body.

NC chairman Haroon was quick to point out the role played by the IPC Minister.

“Congratulations to the football family on the return of Football House!” Haroon tweeted on Saturday morning. “The NC recognises and lauds the contributions of Dr. Fehmida Mirza in achieving this momentous milestone. We thank the entire football family for their support, it’s now time to move forward together.”

The NC will need to move forward quickly on completing the mandate it was assigned by FIFA by holding fresh elections of the PFF which has been mired in crisis and controversy since 2015. The NC has already given the government an eight-month roadmap to hold elections once it regains control of the PFF headquarters.

“I congratulate the football athletes and football fans,” Dr Mirza said in a tweet on Saturday. “Football House has been returned to FIFA. We are looking forward to early restoration of Pakistan’s membership and a partnership with NC for fair and transparent elections.”

Earlier this week, Dr. Mirza held a virtual meeting with officials of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation, assuring them that the PFF headquarters will soon be handed over to the NC.

Although the IPC Minister had announced in a joint news conference in the first week of February that the NC would be handed the headquarters within two weeks, the delay occurred due to the cancellation of the lease agreement that the PFF had with the Punjab government.

Ashfaq and his officials, who came into power through a PFF election held by the Supreme Court in December 2018 which wasn’t recognised by FIFA, had already been evicted from the headquarters in November with the property having been ceased by the Lahore deputy commissioner.

The lease was cancelled because the PFF had entered into a rental agreement for a portion of the property with a private company and the NC had since been in talks with the Punjab Revenue Board to get back its possession.

Our Sports Reporter from Lahore adds: The PFF headquarters were handed over to the NC by Babar Hayat, a senior member of the revenue board.

Sources close to the matter told Dawn that the Revenue Board was interested in keeping a portion of the property and that it was still in its possession despite the handover.

NC member Shahid Khokhar however said that “some equipment of the Revenue Board was lying in the Football House which will be lifted in the next few days.”

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2022