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January 13, 2019

Ashfaq vows to take Pak football to new heights


January 13, 2019

KARACHI: The newly-elected president of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah on Saturday pledged that he will try his level best to live up to the expectations.

“Pakistan has immense talent in football and I pledge to put in my hundred percent to live up to the expectations which the people have attached with me as the PFF chief. If I fail to deliver I will quit,” Ashfaq told a crowded news conference.

“If I’m not able to do justice with my job then it’s not in my nature to stick to anything,” he was quick to add.

Ashfaq also warned that no malpractice will be tolerated. “There will be no malpractice. Neither I do it, nor I let anyone else do it,” Ashfaq said.

He was also flanked by the PFF acting secretary Sharafat Bukhari. He said that they would see a change this time.

“This time, people and football-lovers have joined hands who are the real protectors of the game and a change will be seen soon,” Ashfaq said.

He said that they found football house in a real bad shape.

“I don’t like mudslinging but it’s necessary to mention that football house was neither the property of the outgoing group, nor ours. It’s the property of the nation. The way we found the house in Lahore is a sad story. AFC had sanctioned 300,000 dollars for its rehabilitation. On December 5, 2018 the contractor was told on one-day notice to stop working and leave. And after that people were hired on daily wages to uproot the tiles so that we could not be able to utilise the headquarters. We have left it in the same way as we had found it so that anybody could see what has happened to the headquarters. It’s a criminal act,” Ashfaq alleged.

He reiterated that there was nothing above the law of the land.

“PFF elections were held under the Supreme Court’s instructions. There is nothing bigger than the law of the land. First elections of Punjab Football Association (PFA) were held which the outgoing party accepted. But when the PFF elections, for which the RO was also changed on the request of the outgoing group, were announced they refused to accept that,” Ashfaq said.

He said they were given possession only through a single paper.

“They did not hand us any record,” Ashfaq clarified.

He also criticised the FIFA-recognised PFF’s step of sending back a huge amount to FIFA and AFC. “There were clear instructions from the Supreme Court that no money would be spent without the permission of the apex court,” Ashfaq said.

He said that they had filed an appeal against this act of the other party. He pledged that they will take football to new heights.

“We will have to promote the game. It’s my mission. I will travel around the country. We will consult the experts and will sit together to find out ways how to develop the sport. With a population of 220 million, Pakistan has the potential to grow in football. I saw craze and love in the eyes of people in Lahore who were gathered to take a glimpse of Kaka and Figo despite the fact that the duo has now retired,” the PFF chief said.

He said they will request FIFA to send a fact-finding mission to see the ground realities before taking any decision.

FIFA had already warned Pakistan of a possible suspension if the court-ordered elections of the PFF were held.

The AFC has already rejected Ashfaq’s request of sending a fact-finding delegation to assess the situation.

“We will also try to meet FIFA and the AFC,” the president said.

However, he was quick to add that they will focus on domestic football before the settlement of the issue. “Irrespective of the financial issues, we will carry on all the domestic events at any cost and would not let the game die,” Ashfaq said.

He said that effort will be made to restore PFF’s affiliation with the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).

He also hoped that state would fund PFF. “I hope the state will fund us. If hockey can get Rs200 million then why can’t football?,” he said.

He also lambasted the FIFA-recognised PFF’s move to spend too heavily within eight months. “They have spent Rs230 million in just eight months. Is it not sheer injustice?,” he questioned.

“Immediately after taking charge, the first issue we faced was that of the boycott of referees supervising the Premier League. It was an effort from others to sabotage the country’s top league. We immediately called referees from Peshawar and Malakand in order to fill the gap,” Ashfaq said.