NC delegation in Doha to seek friendlies in Pakistan [The News]

NC delegation in Doha to seek friendlies in Pakistan [The News]

by Alam Zeb Safi

KARACHI: A three-member delegation of FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee is expected to meet several Asian nations on the sideline of FIFA Congress in Doha in order to discuss with them the possibility of inviting them to Pakistan for international friendlies this year once the world body lifts suspension of the country.

The delegation comprises NC chairman Haroon Malik and members Shahid Niaz Khokhar and Haris Azmat on Wednesday reached Doha to attend FIFA Congress which is scheduled to be held on Thursday (today). The delegation will also attend the 2022 FIFA World Cup draws ceremony to be held on Friday (tomorrow).

‘The News’ has reliably learnt that the delegation is expected to meet various Asian nations, including central Asian countries, on Thursday and Friday in order to know whether they will be able to play international friendlies in Pakistan this year after the country’s membership with FIFA is restored.

The delegation, after reaching Doha on Wednesday, held meetings with the representatives of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and some countries.

It has been learnt that Haroon wants to revive Pakistan football by inviting some Asian nations for international friendlies this year.

“If it is done it will be a huge breakthrough for the country whose football has suffered a lot during the last few years,” a source told ‘The News’.

The delegation will also talk to FIFA and AFC on the matter of lifting Pakistan’s suspension. The NC regained access to the PFF headquarters in Lahore a few days ago and has been busy bringing the headquarters into a proper order and settling its accounts issue during the last few days.

An NC source had told ‘The News’ the other day that after settling the headquarters and accounts matter, NC will write to FIFA to lift Pakistan’s suspension. The source had said that the headquarters was in a bad shape and needed some repair.

Pakistan was suspended in the first week of April, 2021, after the Ashfaq group re-occupied the PFF headquarters in March 2021. FIFA had set a condition that the suspension would be lifted only after NC wrote to the world body that it had regained access to the PFF secretariat and accounts.

This was the second time in three years that FIFA suspended Pakistan’s membership.

On October 10, 2017, FIFA had suspended Pakistan for third party interference. The suspension was lifted on March 13, 2018.

During the last seven years, Pakistan missed several domestic leagues and international events because of infighting among different groups. As a consequence, several departmental football teams were dismantled.

After NC regained access to the PFF headquarters recently due to a positive step taken by the federal and Punjab governments, FIFA is now expected to lift Pakistan’s suspension soon. This will not only enable the NC to go for the PFF elections which is its main mandate but it will also revive football activities both at the domestic and international levels. NC has been working in Pakistan since September 2019.

Published in The News, 31 March 2022