KARACHI: National footballers are set to launch their ‘players association’ and start protest demonstrations from Friday to prevent the sport from further damage.
Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa and a number of former and current international players will formally launch the ‘association’ here at the Karachi Press Club at 6pm on Friday.
Essa, who leads K-Electric at the domestic level, has succeeded in convincing a large number of players, organisers and officials of clubs and associations to support the cause.
They will take out a protest rally from Lyari at 3pm on Friday which will end at the Karachi Press Club.
Essa and his companions are likely to hold a press conference at which they will disclose their plans.
“For the last 16 months football has been inactive in Pakistan, which has damaged players’ careers,” Essa told ‘The News’ on Monday.
He said that Pakistan had missed a handful of international events of various age-groups and had also failed to hold its Premier League last season.
“It seems that we will be missing out another Premier League this season which will worsen the players’ conditions,” he said.
“On Friday we will protest peacefully. We had meetings with major stakeholders and all have agreed to support us in our mission,” the player said.
“Our main object is the resumption of football activities as soon as possible. Other nations are progressing rapidly while our players are in their homes because of the dispute,” Essa said, referring to the conflict between two groups of officials due to which football activities have remained suspended.
“We decided to start from Karachi because it is a major centre of football, but we will also protest in other parts of the country,” Essa added.
In the next couple of days, Essa intends to take into confidence some of those Pakistani international footballers who play abroad.
The controversial elections of Punjab Football Association (PFA) in April last year started the mess. PFF suspended 20 members of the Arshad Lodhi group, which convened an extraordinary Congress of PFF in Islamabad and suspended PFF president Faisal Saleh Hayat and terminated secretary Ahmed Yar Lodhi.
The congress appointed former PFF Congress member Arshad Lodhi as PFF acting president and PFF former Director Clubs and Projects Col Farasat as acting secretary. Arshad Lodhi group then occupied the PFF headquarters in Lahore.
On June 29, 2015, Lahore High Court (LHC) gave a stay order against the PFF elections.
But on June 30 Faisal group held its elections at Changla Galli in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Faisal was re-elected for the fourth successive term as PFF chief.
The rival group filed a contempt of court case against Faisal and his company, which is yet to conclude. A hearing will be held in October.
Meanwhile, LHC declared the June 30 elections null and void and appointed former justice Asad Muneer as PFF administrator. He is still working in that capacity.
The LHC has tasked a committee to hold elections for PFA and PFF.
FIFA sent a three-member fact-finding mission to Lahore in August last year which submitted its report with FIFA.
In October the same year, FIFA’s Executive Committee decided to give Faisal-led PFF two years during which it was to revise its constitution and hold elections afresh.
But no step has been taken in that direction because of legal issues. No Pakistani club will feature in this year’s 2017 AFC Cup play-off qualifiers because the premier league was not held.