Time to act wisely [TNS]

Time to act wisely [TNS]

by Alam Zeb Safi

Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee is facing tough challenges from the stakeholders across the country for its alleged unconstitutional acts.

Huge protest demonstrations were held in the last few days in Karachi, Chaman and Lahore. The protesters demanded removal of NC’s chairman Haroon Malik, who is a dual national. The protesters demanded the restoration of the Premier League, the second tier league and also lashed at out NC for holding unfair and illegal elections of the Pakistan Football Referees Association (PFRA).

The protesters said that Haroon-led NC had completely failed to act as per FIFA’s mandate and requested FIFA and AFC to replace Haroon with such a person as NC chairman who could hold the PFF elections as per the mandate given by FIFA. They chanted “go Haroon go”.

A similar protest is on the cards in Islamabad in the next few days.

According to sources it will be a huge and decisive protest.

Sources told me that a major arrangement is being made to make this protest highly effective.

Football stakeholders think that NC is not serious in holding the PFF elections by March 15, a mandate given to it by FIFA. NC still needs a lot of time to complete the scrutiny of clubs.

NC is also being accused of manipulating the coming PFF elections. According to stakeholders it plans to give voting rights to clubs of its choice irrespective of the eligibility issue and bring in its own people in the PFF elections.

Quite interestingly the protest demonstrations had been expedited by the stakeholders in order to put pressure on NC as a meeting of the Pakistan government officials, FIFA, AFC and NC was on the cards on December 12 in Dubai. However, Haroon played his cards tactfully and was successful in postponing this meeting which could have proved to be dangerous for his future as NC’s chairman.

Haroon is a shrewd person but stakeholders are also now well aware of what he is doing. The decision to postpone the Dubai meeting has also irked the government officials. They were ready to go to Dubai and according to sources their bookings had also been made.

The government has done a great job to facilitate NC in hosting Cambodia and Tajikistan in the World Cup Qualifiers in Islamabad.

It was not Pakistan’s government but FIFA which proposed the Dubai meeting.

Haroon told me that he wanted to resolve a few things before the meeting. He told me that the meeting can be rescheduled either for the end of January or the beginning of February once those things are resolved. What those things are is a mystery.

There is speculation that Haroon wants to launch a franchise-based league during his tenure as NC’s chairman. Sources said that Haroon has wanted to do this since the start. Sources said that it was not his domain as NC’s chairman to take such major steps which should be taken by the next elected Executive Committee of the PFF.

Another big issue with Haroon is that he is giving favour to some people and stakeholders are now convinced that he is paving way for bringing in his own people in the coming elections.

These are serious issues and Haroon should explain his position. Haroon should also explain whether he has the powers to give voting rights to new clubs. Haroon should explain how NC directly conducted PFRA elections. Instead of facilitating the PFRA in its elections NC directly conducted it, the stakeholders say.

It’s time for Haroon to hold a news conference and reply to various queries so that stakeholders could know about NC’s actual intent.

Haroon should not play with the patience of the stakeholders who have sacrificed their entire lives in serving football. Instead of creating further issues for the country’s football he should go with speed to conduct the PFF elections inside the next three months and hand over the charge to the elected PFF.

Pakistan football cannot face any further hiccup. It has suffered a lot during the last eight years. NC was installed in September 2019. Initially former NC chairman Hamza Khan was blamed for not going to elections and now Haroon is being criticised for delaying the electoral process despite having been at the helm of affairs for the last two years.

NC should act as per constitution while undertaking various electoral tasks, otherwise things may go out of control and Pakistan football could be put in further trouble.

Let’s act responsibly to save Pakistan football from further miseries.


Published in The News on Sunday, 17 December 2023