FIFA looking to set up meeting with Pakistan government ‘early next year’ [Dawn]

FIFA looking to set up meeting with Pakistan government ‘early next year’ [Dawn]

by Umaid Wasim

KARACHI: The twice-postponed meeting between officials of global football body FIFA and the Pakistan government could be held as soon as next month.

Originally scheduled for September, it was moved to December before being called off again despite officials of the government having already booked their flights to Dubai for the meeting.

No reason for the postponement was given by the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee in its communication with the government just a few days before the meeting was scheduled to be held.

Officials of the PFF NC and the Asian Football Confederation were also going to attend the high-level meeting, whose agenda was to “discuss in more detail the current situation of PFF and the future of football in Pakistan post-normalisation committee”.

The government has been at odds with the PFF NC for the continuing delay in the holding of elections of the country’s football governing body and it was expected that it was going to press the Haroon Malik-led committee into giving a confirmed date for elections at the meeting.

FIFA also did not give reasons for the postponement although it said that it was looking to set up the meeting in January.

“FIFA remains in contact and continues to work closely with the current normalisation committee, as well as the AFC, to find a new date for the next meeting with relevant authorities in Pakistan,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn on Wednesday night.

“Together with relevant stakeholders, FIFA was exploring a date at the end of 2023, which unfortunately was not possible. A new meeting date is now being explored and is due to take place early next year.”

When told by Dawn about the possibility of the meeting being held next month, Pakistan Sports Board director general Shoaib Khosa said on Thursday he was “looking forward to it”.

Khosa, however, was quick to add that they hadn’t received any communication from the PFF NC since it informed the PSB about the December meeting being postponed.

“We were only told that the [December] meeting wasn’t being held a few days before we were going to depart for Dubai,” Khosa rued. “Since then, the PFF NC hasn’t got back to us. It didn’t give us a reason why the meeting was being postponed.”

Khosa added that the PSB was planning to write to FIFA to ask for an update regarding the elections.

“The current mandate of the PFF NC expires in March and our demand remains the same …. that the elections are held by then,” said Khosa. “We are willing to offer our full support to ensure that the elections are conducted by March.”

Dawn has learnt that the PFF NC has been stalling the meeting, fearing that the government will be pushing for an election date. The government, meanwhile, is looking for answers from the PFF NC.

Newly-appointed Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Fawad Hasan Fawad said on Thursday that he was going to invite the officials of the PFF NC for a meeting soon.“What I’ve learnt from the officials of the IPC Ministry is that the December meeting with FIFA was postponed on the behest of the PFF NC,” Fawad told Dawn.

“I’m looking forward at inviting the officials of the PFF NC soon for talks. The PFF NC has been designated to hold elections but so far it has been unable to do so [despite having been appointed in September 2019].

“International federations prevent government interference in their member associations but unfortunately in Pakistan, it has resulted in a complete collapse of the sporting ecosystem.

“We have no plan to interfere in the matters of the PFF NC but if we don’t get a satisfactory response from it, we will be writing to FIFA.”

The PFF NC did not respond to a request for comment by Dawn till the filing of this report.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2023