Football stakeholders stage protest outside Punjab Stadium [The News]

Football stakeholders stage protest outside Punjab Stadium [The News]

by Alam Zeb Safi

LAHORE: Football stakeholders from across the country on Thursday demanded removal of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee’s Chairman Haroon Malik and requested FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to replace him with someone who could conduct the PFF’s fair elections within the timeline set by the world football governing body.

The demand came during a protest demonstration held here at the main gate of the Punjab Stadium which leads towards the PFF headquarters.

The protesters were not allowed to go beyond the main gate. The security forces did not even allow them for a photograph in front of the board installed near the main gate carrying the name of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).

The protest organisers had not got permission from the authorities for staging the protest in front of the PFF headquarters.

This correspondent learnt that PFF NC had written to the top authorities to deploy police at all gates leading towards the PFF headquarters, telling them that the protesters could create law and order situation and could occupy the PFF headquarters.

It was altogether a peaceful protest. Besides former president of Punjab Football Association (PFA) Naveed Haider the protest was also attended by a bunch of former Pakistan captains, including Haroon Yousuf and Mohammad Essa, senior leaders from Balochistan including Haji Khalil, Gul Mohammad Kakar, senior football official from Sindh Ali Bahar Baloch and senior officials from Punjab Rana Zia and Mian Abbas.

The protesters raised banners and placards which carried different messages relating to the alleged unconstitutional acts of the PFF NC, controversial elections of Pakistan Football Referees Association (PFRA), non-payment of players’ dues and unfair selection of the national team.

They chanted “go Haroon go” and “Haroon stop misleading FIFA”. Naveed Haider said that NC has failed to respect FIFA’s mandate.

“NC has failed to do justice with the mandate given by FIFA regarding holding elections of the PFF. Our demand is that NC’s chairman Haroon Malik should be immediately removed from his post and he should be replaced by a person who could hold transparent elections of the PFF in remaining three months,” Naveed said.

“NC’s chairman and members are getting huge salaries and are doing nothing towards the elections. They haven’t even conducted ten percent scrutiny. I wonder how they could hold elections by March 15 as the way they are conducting scrutiny it will take them one and a half more years,” Naveed said.

“Our home-grown players are not being developed. There is no domestic activity. NC has focused only on foreign players.It has also conducted highly unfair elections of Pakistan Football Referees Association (PFRA),” he said.

“NC has stopped giving dues of our players of various age-groups and senior teams which is highly painful,” Naveed said. Mohammad Essa also criticized NC for not respecting FIFA’s mandate and for destroying the country’s football.

“NC had been installed by FIFA to normalize the situation but it has rather further complicated it. There is no domestic football. How departments would revive their teams if there is no Premier League and second-tier league. In one year

it has not even completed the National Challenge Cup,” Essa said.

“We request FIFA and the AFC to remove Haroon and replace him with an honest person who could ensure free and fair PFF elections within the mandate of FIFA,” Essa said.

“Look, NC does not even disclose which clubs fullfil the requirements of the constitution and it is a clear indication that it will eventually prepare its own list which is not fair,” Essa observed.

Published in The News, 8 December 2023