Pakistan's football community is in celebration mode. The International Football Federation has lifted the suspension it had imposed on the country last year. The Pakistan Football Federation was...
Pakistan's football community is in celebration mode. The International Football Federation (FIFA) has lifted the suspension it had imposed on the country last year. The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) was banned by the game's governing body over "third party interference" in April 2021. FIFA's decision on Thursday ended Pakistan's 14-month isolation from the football world. The country's footballers and other stakeholders are justified in celebrating Pakistan's return to the international fold as the FIFA announcement will once again allow the country to participate in international competitions like the upcoming South Asian Women's Football Championship to be held in Nepal from end August to September.
Pakistan's women footballers have not featured in an international event in almost eight years. The fate of the country's male footballers isn't much better as Pakistan football had been going through a rough phase even before the FIFA suspension due to a power struggle within parallel groups fighting to take control of the PFF. It was because of this power struggle that FIFA suspended Pakistan after one group forcefully occupied the PFF headquarters last year. The group led by a former PFF president ejected officials appointed by FIFA as part of a Normalisation Committee which was formed to put Pakistan football on the right track. It was only after the PFF office and its bank accounts were handed over to the NC that FIFA decided to lift the suspension. But it has warned that Pakistan will once again face the music if there is any undue interference in the affairs of the NC in the future. FIFA has given NC another year to hold fair and transparent PFF elections.
Pakistan football cannot afford any more setbacks. Despite being one of Pakistan's most popular sports, football has failed to make any worthwhile progress in our country. And the failure cannot be attributed to a lack of talent. The biggest culprit behind the sorry state of Pakistan football are the people who have been running the sport in the country. There has never been any serious, long-term development plan to lift Pakistan football out of a downward spiral. Pakistan football has lost many precious years due to the various power struggles in the past. Thursday's positive development should serve as a launch pad for a full-fledged campaign to ensure a better tomorrow for Pakistan football. All stakeholders will need to unite because that's the only way forward. With FIFA's support, PFF should devise a comprehensive plan to take Pakistan football to the next level. With millions of youngsters playing the game across the country, getting a big pool of players should not be a problem. Pakistan football has enormous potential. It's time that we started tapping it.