Motives unclear as PFF NC plans to hold summit alongside visit of FIFA-AFC delegation [Dawn]

Motives unclear as PFF NC plans to hold summit alongside visit of FIFA-AFC delegation [Dawn]

by Umaid Wasim

KARACHI: Having brazenly added ‘President Pakistan Football Federation’ under his working title of Chairman PFF Normalisation Committee, Haroon Malik is holding a summit on aimed at ‘contributing towards nation building through football’ during next week’s visit of the joint-delegation from global football body FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation.

The delegation’s visit — postponed from November when it was called off due to political unrest in the country — is aimed at sorting out the roadmap for elections of the PFF, which will see an elected president come into power, with the summit being held on January 17, where the PFF NC says the panel of experts will comprise delegates from FIFA and AFC.

Invitations to the media haven’t been sent officially by the PFF so far and a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn on Wednesday that “there will be no media activities” during the delegation’s visit.

FIFA did not respond till Saturday when asked to confirm whether the delegates will speak at the summit considering there is a ‘question and answer session’ scheduled in the event programme and media is likely to be invited in the days running up to the event.

Well-placed sources have told Dawn that the three-member delegation is led by Rolf Tanner, FIFA’s Head of Member Associations Governance. Tanner has been looking at Pakistan’s case for over a year.

He is due to be joined by Purushottam Kattel, Head of the South Asia Unit of AFC Member Associations, and Andrei Vashkevich, the Project Coordinator from the FIFA Regional Development Office in Dubai.

The talks ahead of the summit are likely to centre on how the PFF NC moves ahead with the elections. A discussion to change some statutes of the PFF Constitution is also likely to be held.

For the summit, the PFF has invited several high-ranking government officials, Dawn has learnt. But it remains unclear what the summit will achieve with several former PFF officials, who are expected to contest the elections whenever they are held, telling Dawn that it remains a closed doors event and they haven’t received any invites.

“They have invited some football academy owners and players to attend the summit and that’s it,” one stakeholder told Dawn on the condition of anonymity.

In the past, FIFA and AFC officials have held largely closed doors meeting with the PFF NC during their visits to the country. The only interaction they had with the media was at a news conference with selected media when the NC was appointed in September 2019 after years of crisis and controversy in the PFF.

This time, though, there is a summit being held and so far it seems like an event where questions pertaining to the PFF NC and what it’s achieved so far won’t be entertained.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2023