By our correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan football eventually got a new life as FIFA on Thursday lifted sanctions and extended the mandate of the Normalisation Committee for one year.
FIFA took the decision after all pertinent requirements were fulfilled and now Pakistan will not only return to international football circuit but it will also be able to hold its leagues and other events through the financial assistance from FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
“The Bureau of the FIFA Council decided on June 29, 2022, to lift the suspension that was imposed on the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) in April 2021 due to undue third-party interference,” FIFA said in a brief press statement on Thursday.
“The decision was taken after FIFA received confirmation that the normalisation committee of the PFF had regained full control of the PFF’s premises and was in a position to manage its finances,” it said.
“The PFF was also informed that any undue interference in its affairs or action that could hinder the fulfilment of the mandate of the normalisation committee might lead to the PFF being suspended again and or the imposition of other sanctions provided for in the FIFA Statutes,” the statement said.
“As the deadline by which the normalisation committee was required to fulfil its mandate (30 June 2022) is now no longer realistic, the Bureau has also decided to extend the committee‘s mandate until June 30, 2023, at the latest. This will enable the latter to finally carry out the tasks assigned to it in full,” the statement said.
NC chairman Haroon Malik was happy with the outcome.
“It’s a historic day for Pakistan football,” Haroon said after a great news emerged.
“I congratulate the Pakistani nation and the football community of the country on this great occasion. The NC is determined to fulfill the mandate of FIFA. We will not only restore national events but will also ensure Pakistan to feature in international events,” said Haroon.
The top task before NC is to conduct club registration, scrutiny and hold elections at the district, provincial and PFF levels.
According to a senior official of the NC it will take them at least one month to make the house in order.
“You know the condition of the PFF headquarters and inshaAllah we will work on it and within a month little bit of order will be maintained so that we could start working towards our target,” the official said.
FIFA suspended Pakistan in April last year, just days after Ashfaq Group occupied the PFF headquarters in Lahore. FIFA had given them a few days deadline to hand over the PFF headquarters to NC but the group remained adamant which forced the world body to suspend the country for third party’s interference.
In November last year Punjab government, however, seized the PFF headquarters for lease reasons. And it was expected that the issue would get prolonged but due to the timely interference from the former federal minister of IPC Dr Fehmida Mirza, eventually, in March this year NC was given the possession of the headquarters. There was accounts issue and it could further dent the country’s football future but NC did a glorious job on that front too and now is in a position to manage its finances.
Pakistan also had to face international isolation for six months in 2017-2018. And when the suspension lifted in early 2018 Pakistan team was able to play the World Cup qualifiers against Cambodia.
Pakistan football suffered massively during the last seven years because of wrangling among various factions. The country not only missed numerous international events but it also failed to conduct its several editions of the Premier League.
Pakistan senior football team captain Saddam Hussain was excited over the development.
“I am really excited,” Saddam told The News. “Look, it was a matter of our country’s image and now the decision has instilled a new life in the whole football fraternity and now all players will re-group and we will be able to return to international circuit,” Saddam said.
Pakistan’s only Pro License coach Shehzad Anwar said FIFA’s decision protected the future of the new generation.
“Better late than never. It has really saved the future of our young players and now we at least this year will be able to feature in international youth events,” said Shehzad, also a former Pakistan head coach and PFF Director Technical.