FIFA Congress backs Pakistan’s return to international football [The News]

FIFA Congress backs Pakistan’s return to international football [The News]

KARACHI: As many as 195 nations during the FIFA Congress in Doha on Thursday voted in favour of restoring Pakistan’s membership once the pertinent requirements have been fulfilled.

Only four nations voted against Pakistan. And this shows that in the next few days FIFA will lift suspension which it imposed on Pakistan in April last year for third party interference.

“It’s a huge development,” a source in the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee who attended the FIFA Congress told ‘The News’ from Doha.

A three-member NC delegation, headed by its chairman Haroon Malik, is in Doha. The delegation, which includes senior members Shahid Khokhar and Haris Azmat, will also attend FIFA World Cup 2022 draws ceremony on Friday (today).

While suspending Pakistan’s membership FIFA said that the suspension would be lifted only when NC wrote to it that it had regained access to the PFF headquarters and accounts.

A few days ago NC regained access to the PFF headquarters and accounts matter is also being addressed.

This correspondent has learnt that NC’s delegation also held meetings with many countries and discussed with them mutual football relations.

An NC source told this correspondent that NC’s delegation was also expected to held meetings with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chief Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa.

It has also been learnt that NC’s delegation also held meetings with the football associations of Oman, Palestine and Lithuania.

“A very good meeting was held with Lithuania. We will invite them for international friendlies to Pakistan,” the source said.

NC’s delegation also on Thursday visited the Aspire Academy in Doha, one of the global football training hubs, having multiple football pitches.

NC has been working in Pakistan since September 2019. Its immediate task was to conduct club registration and scrutiny, hold elections at the district, provincial and PFF levels within nine months. However, it failed to do so.

Several times FIFA extended NC’s mandate and at the end of 2020 FIFA also recomposed NC, bringing in Haroon in place of Hamza Khan as chairman and members were also replaced.

Now after a strong commitment with the IPC Ministry, it is highly likely to go for the PFF elections during the next few months. NC’s mandate is until June 30, 2022, and might further be extended by the world body.

After FIFA will lifts suspension, the country will also become eligible to feature in international events.

Published in The News, 1 April 2022