by Umaid Wasim
KARACHI: Pakistan national women’s football team is set to end its eight-year international exile next month.
The South Asian Football Federation on Saturday confirmed that it has received Pakistan’s entry form for the SAFF Women’s Championship in Nepal, making it the first event any team from the country will take part since the 15-month suspension on the Pakistan Football Federation was lifted by FIFA last week.
“We have received their entry form yesterday,” SAFF Secretary General Anwarul Haque Helal told Dawn early Saturday morning.
Friday was the deadline for SAFF member associations to submit their entry forms and Helal had told Dawn on Friday night that South Asia’s football body was yet to receive it from the PFF Normalisation Committee.
The confirmation on Saturday means that the Pakistan women’s team will play for the first time since it featured in the 2014 edition of the SAFF Championship.
Since then, Pakistan football has been mired in crisis and controversy due to infighting in the PFF which in September 2019 forced FIFA into appointing a Normalisation Committee for the PFF.
But even the appointment of the NC did not spare Pakistan football from further controversy.
Pakistan was suspended by FIFA in April last year after the PFF headquarters were seized by a group of officials led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah, who was elected PFF president in polls held by the Supreme Court which FIFA never accepted.
The suspension was lifted last month after the PFF NC got back control of the PFF headquarters and arranged another way to obtain FIFA funding as a case regarding its bank accounts is still being heard in court.
NC sources have told Dawn that since FIFA funding hadn’t resumed as yet, participation in the SAFF Women’s Championship would be a special case and finances for it would be arranged.