FIFA says working with PFF NC, auditors to release funding [Dawn]

FIFA says working with PFF NC, auditors to release funding [Dawn]

by Umaid Wasim

KARACHI: The onus is on the Pakistan Football Federation Norm­a­lisation Comm­ittee to complete an audit of its accounts to get the next tranche of funding from global football body FIFA.

The FIFA-appointed PFF NC has been facing a cash crunch over the past several months, with play­ers of various national teams — from seniors to age-groups and women — yet to be paid their dues.

FIFA confirmed on Tuesday that it was working with the PFF NC as well as independent auditors to ensure funding resumes to the Haroon Malik-led committee.

“We can confirm that the normalisation committee of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is in contact with FIFA on this matter,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn on Tuesday.

“FIFA is also continuing to work closely with the normalisation committee, and independent auditors, to ensure that all the correct steps are taken to release funding.”

PFF NC member Shahid Khokhar had told Dawn last week that the delay in receiving funds was due to “procedural matters”, high­l­i­ghting that FIFA had made “special arrangements” to make payments to the NC.

PFF’s bank accounts have been frozen due to an legal issue after a group of officials led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah took over control of the country’s football headquarters in March 2021, prompting a 15-month ban on Pakistan by FIFA.

The PFF NC eventually regained control of the headquarters — one of the conditions for the suspension to be lifted — but had to make a new account to receive funding.

Dawn has learnt that FIFA had been asking for an audit of the accounts since April this year and there had been a delay in submitting documentation on the PFF NC’s part.

Sources told Dawn that although operational funds hadn’t been released, funding for club scrutiny — the first step towards holding elections of the PFF; the primary task of the NC — was being received.

The PFF NC on Tuesday announced that physical scrutiny of 446 clubs in 21 districts had been completed.

For other matters, however, FIFA’s funding will be needed.

Next month, the PFF NC has the all-important task of organising the home leg of Pakistan’s first-round qualifier for the 2026 FIFA World Cup against Cambodia.

Last week, an official from the Asian Football Confederation inspected Islamabad’s Jinnah Stadium and the Punjab Stadium in Lahore for the second-leg match scheduled for Oct 17.

Sources told Dawn that the Jinnah Stadium will be the likely venue but there are a few areas that will need renovation for it comply with hosting standards set for World Cup qualifiers.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2023