Ashfaq Group takes PFF headquarters control; PFF NC cancel National Women Football Championship; Pakistan on brink of international ban

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KARACHI: Uncertainty continues to loom over the country’s football future when on Saturday Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah-led Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), which had been formed in 2018 in the elections held under the Supreme Court instructions, reassumed its control of the PFF headquarters and accounts from the FIFA-installed Malik Haroon-led Normalisation Committee.

The dramatic development also seems to have put Pakistan on the brink of suspension from FIFA. It has also put in uncertainty the fate of the National Women Football Championship being in operation here.

The development emerged hours after the ExCo and Congress meetings of the Ashfaq-led PFF in Islamabad on Friday. In the meeting they had shown dissatisfaction over the way NC had been working during the past 18 months.

Ashfaq-led PFF had handed the PFF control to FIFA-installed NC in September 2019.

Both the FIFA-installed NC and Ashfaq-led PFF had different views about the nature of the development.

“The PFF office was attacked in Lahore by Ashfaq Shah and his group. Sardar Naveed Haider Khan was also present with the attackers. The PFF staff physically harassed and were held hostage. The group has taken over the PFF house,” the PFF NC alleged in a statement.

Malik Haroon, meanwhile, said that it was something scarry.

“It was something scarry,” Haroon said.

“They stormed my room at around 1:30pm and started shouting. I told them to give me two minutes. I told them let’s sit in the auditorium and talk. Led by Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah they told me that they have decided to take possession,” Malik alleged.

“I told them that how it can happen as it will have grave implications over Pakistan’s football if FIFA suspend Pakistan. They said they will handle the things. I told them let’s think before we do any adventurism. They said hand over and leave,” Malik alleged.

“I even told them that they should have consulted it with him and in one or two days I could have thought over it but they said that they have decided in their last day’s meeting in Islamabad that they will take possession,” Malik said.

“My whole staff was physically harassed. As the glass door, the exit door, had been locked I broke the glass and exited the house. It was quite unfortunate,” Malik said.

“Our lawyer is handling the things. I am in contact with FIFA. Currently I am very much depressed,” said Malik.

Asked whether they had weapons with them Malik said he was very much depressed and cannot say with certainty about weapons.

Ashfaq rubbished the statement of Haroon, saying he was telling lies.

“We neither harassed Malik Haroon nor anyone else in the PFF headquarters,” Ashfaq said.

“We gave Haroon all the respect. We went to meet him today and handed him the letter that we have got a mandate from the PFF Congress and ExCo to reassume the PFF charge. I told him that we had given NC the charge in good faith in September 2019 with the hope that it would hold the PFF elections in a fair and transparent way within the FIFA mandate. But it did not do anything in the past 18 months. Neither Humza (former NC chief) could do anything in 15 months, nor you (Haroon) could do anything in the last four months. I told him to tell me whether any single step has been taken by the NC during the last 18 months which has benefitted Pakistan football,” Ashfaq said.

“Malik told us to give him sometime. He went to his room and we waited for quite sometime. Then I all alone went to meet him in his room and told him that under the directives of the PFF ExCo and Congress we are going to reassume the charge. I even told him that we had handed charge to former NC chairman Humza Khan in a very cordial way in September 2019 and he (Haroon) should reciprocate by giving us charge back in the same manner. But he did not accept. I requested him for five times. Then he himself picked up his bag and started leaving. When he went down, the glass door was shut and he broke the glass and exited. Is this the civilized way to act like this?. Has he learnt this by living in Canada?,” Ashfaq questioned.

“We had 20 people with us and had our intention been to harass him then he could not have left but we did not want any such unpleasant thing. Our people are filing case in the police station,” Ashfaq said.

About the national women event being held in Karachi Ashfaq said that the Exco would decide whether to continue with it or stop it.

Ashfaq said that they are ready to meet FIFA.

“Yes we are ready to meet FIFA. I will definitely ask FIFA that I have written 14 letters to it during the last few months but the world body did not even take pain to reply,” Ashfaq said.

FIFA in September 2019 installed NC under Humza Khan by giving it the mandate to hold the PFF elections until June 2020. However it did not meet the mandate. FIFA then extended it until December 31, 2020 but again nothing was done towards elections. Humza in the meantime resigned. FIFA recomposed NC and brought in Haroon in January as its chairman. A few days ago he had told media that the election roadmap would be unveiled by the second week of April.