Pakistan football stares at long ban from FIFA

Pakistan football has been in turmoil for the last three years
Last Updated 30 March 2021, 13:47 IST

Pakistan football is staring at a long-term ban from the FIFA after a forced take over of the national federation headquarters in Lahore by a group which won the last elections but annulled by the world governing body of the sport.

The world body has now given until Wednesday for the PFF group, led by Ashfaq Hussain, to vacate the Football House and give its control back to the FIFA Normalization Committee headed by Haroon Malik.

“If the government’s sports minister does not intervene and resolve this issue Pakistan football could be banned for a very long time from all international competitions,” a member of the normalization committee said on Tuesday.

He said if FIFA imposes a ban, the PFF will not get any fund from the world body, leaving the sport in the country in a financial mess and development projects on hold.

Pakistan football has been in turmoil for the last three years ever since it was reported that government officials had started interfering in the affairs of the national federation.

FIFA had appointed a Normalization Committee in 2019 to hold elections after a long drawn out dispute between opposing groups in the PFF and a number of court cases.

Interestingly, politics came to the fore even in the Normalization Committee and a new set-up was announced by FIFA late last year to hold elections by June 2021.

But last Saturday, things went out of control as a PFF group, led by Ashfaq Hussain, broke in and forcibly took over the Football House in Lahore.

According to sources, they also manhandled and harassed the staff, kept them under forcible confinement and took personal belongings and items by force.

According to the FIFA-appointed Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee, all these actions were illegal and could lead to a long term ban on Pakistan football.

Ashfaq Hussain told a newspaper that he didn’t care about any FIFA ban but only about reviving the game in Pakistan.

He also complained that the Normalization Committee had failed to hold elections on time and their members were involved in politics.

Haroon Malik, who heads the Normalization Committee, made it clear that FIFA only recognises them.

Soon after taking over the Football House, the Ashfaq group announced postponement of the National Women's Championships being held in Karachi and said it would be resumed under a new management and organizing committee.

A number of leading women players have voiced their concern over the damage being caused to Pakistan football.

(Published 30 March 2021, 13:47 IST)

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