by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan football is more likely to come out of a deep quagmire as FIFA is expected to lift sanctions in the next few days which will likely help the nation to come out of international isolation.
According to well-placed sources, both FIFA and the Normalisation Committee have been in constant and constructive communication since long and it is expected that in the next two weeks the world body itself will announce some big news regarding Pakistan’s football.
When contacted, the FIFA-appointed NC’s chairman Haroon Malik hoped that something ‘positive’ would emerge.
“InshaAllah something positive will happen,” Haroon told ‘The News’ on Saturday.
“We have made some positive correspondence with FIFA and we are hopeful that things will go forward in the right direction,” Haroon said.
Refusing to divulge more details, Haroon said that he could not say anything more as it was the ‘prerogative’ of FIFA to disclose such news.
FIFA had suspended Pakistan amidst third party’s interference in the first week of April last year, just days after Ashfaq Group occupied the PFF headquarters in Lahore in March.
In November, the Punjab government seized the PFF Secretariat due to lease issues.
However, thanks to a solid struggle from the former federal minister for IPC Dr Fehmida Mirza, the Punjab government handed over the PFF Secretariat to NC in March this year.
While going to suspend Pakistan in April last year, FIFA had categorically stated that the suspension would be lifted only when NC would regain its access to the PFF headquarters and accounts.
The PFF’s legal case related to accounts is still in operation. It has, in fact, reached an evidence stage and it is expected that it will be resolved soon as a hearing is scheduled to be held on June 29.
According to sources it may take a few more weeks to settle the issue. A highly credible source said that NC has negotiated deeply this matter with FIFA also.
Sources said that FIFA’s formal announcement may also carry some major guidelines relating to the constitutional amendments and the PFF electoral process. Sources said that NC has already discussed with FIFA the PFF Constitution which needs to be revised before going for elections.
Sources said that even the entire football community wants that the constitutional issues should be resolved before going for the PFF elections.
After sanctions will be lifted, NC’s foremost task will be to conduct club registration and scrutiny, hold elections at the district, provincial and PFF levels besides dealing with the day-to-day affairs of football in the country.
Sources said that NC will conduct the elections as per the road-map which it has already shared with the federal government.
Football in Pakistan has been passing through tough times since 2015 and during the last seven years the nation also faced sanctions from FIFA twice.
The nation missed a handful of major international events besides having missed its league for several seasons.
The legal conflict among various factions for years destroyed careers of a large number of footballers. Players, who were in top shape seven years ago, have now lost their gloss and they are now in the twilight of their careers.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy was brought to Pakistan in 2018 and 2022 but on both occasions the country was facing a ban from FIFA.
The absence of players association and coaches association in the country also helped various factions to drag the matter for years. FIFA Congress in Doha recently voted in favour of restoring Pakistan’s membership once the pertinent matters were fulfilled.