FIFA may ban Pakistan as Ashfaq Group ignores the world body’s deadline

By our correspondent

KARACHI: Now the ball is in FIFA court. Despite some huge pressure from various cordons, Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah-led Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) on Wednesday decided to stick to holding control of the PFF headquarters in Lahore. 

“After consulting our executive council and Congress we have come to the conclusion that in the current football scenario we will continue our working while holding control on the PFF headquarters till such time when some other Normalisation Committee comes in and we start discussion on,” Ashfaq said in a video message. 

FIFA on Tuesday had set Wednesday’s 8pm as deadline for Ashfaq Group to hand over the PFF headquarters to the FIFA-installed Normalisation Committee. It means now the next step FIFA will take is to suspend Pakistan’s membership. 

Ashfaq also assured Pakistan government and FIFA that they have no bad intentions and want Pakistan football to develop.

“I also assure Pakistan government that we don’t have any bad intentions and I also assure FIFA that we again will stretch our hands of friendship but it should be on equality basis. Do what is acceptable. What they (NCs) have done is not acceptable,” Ashfaq said.

Ashfaq’s body had been formed in the elections held in December 2018 under the directives of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. 

He said they had handed over administrative charge to NC in September 2019 in good faith but it disappointed them. 

“We had called FIFA NC to the PFF headquarters 18 months ago and handed over it the administrative charge wholeheartedly. We hoped that NC would hold fair and transparent elections in Pakistan but to our great disappointment that after spending 18 months in office not a single step has been taken towards holding elections of the PFF,” Ashfaq said.

“Our decision of Executive Committee and Congress was not appreciated and the decision was ridiculed. Now see the situation that after 18 months it has no roadmap towards holding the PFF elections. You will be aware of the situation Ashfaq had come to the PFF having a mandate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Elections were held in the building of the Supreme Court under the directives of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. We are the legitimate stakeholders of the PFF headquarters,” Ashfaq said.  “After serving ten to 11 months we took the step and welcomed Normalisation Committee that it should come and hold elections as per the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. But what was done in the 18 months,” Ashfaq questioned. 

“For the first time harassment cases, for the first time corruption cases, for the first time suspension, is it football and within one NC there were three NCs,” Ashfaq said.  “First committee formed and it spent 14 months and for reasons best known to FIFA and the AFC it dropped the committee. And when the second committee came it revoked the decisions of the first committee. What about the expenses and other things on this committee. Then second committee also was dissolved within one month. And when the third committee came it revoked the decisions of the second committee.”  “You should think it could not hold elections of a few thousands clubs and when an interim government comes it holds elections of 22 crore people within three months,” he said. “They did not take a single step towards elections. They remained busy in their own programmes,” Ashfaq reiterated.

“I appreciate my Congress and Executive Committee who on my call took a unanimous step to hand over the administrative charge to the NC. There is limit to everything,” Ashfaq said. “What they have done, just wasting time. I kept on informing FIFA of every event happening in Pakistan but as a matter of fact it did not recognise us. And today we are given deadline that this and this will happen. Have I have killed any one, have we stormed anything, we are fighting for the football stakeholders and football lovers,” Ashfaq said. “FIFA have been giving 50,000 dollars and 25,000 dollars to them during this time. Ask them where they have spent  75,000 dollars per month. They have organised a tournament and you could see its situation. I will not go in details of this because I will not make any accountability of that and they should do themselves. I will request FIFA  to make accountable those who had been appointed in NC. FIFA should ask them that they (we) had stretched their hands of friendship. Even today we are open to anything,” Ashfaq said. “We even don’t know who are the people of the third committee and how they came and if this is the system then it is unacceptable. We want improvement in Pakistan’s football and want it to flourish. I have come from football family and all my colleagues have come from football families,” Ashfaq said. Meanwhile NC chairman Haroon Malik termed the development utterly sad.

“It’s a dark and sad day for the sport itself and the football lovers,” Haroon told this correspondent.

One of the key stakeholders Syed Zahir Shah urged the prime minister Imran Khan to intervene.

“The PM is a sportsman and should intervene immediately. It is the matter of millions of those people whose bread and butter is attached with football,” Shah told this correspondent.