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FIFA committee decides to send mission to Pakistan

April 05, 2019

KARACHI: A joint fact-finding mission of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will come to Pakistan to hold discussion with "all parties" in a bid to resolve Pakistan’s football dispute which has rocked the sport.

It was confirmed by FIFA on Thursday after its Member Associations Committee meeting held in its headquarters in Zurich on Wednesday. After meeting with the stakeholders the mission will make proposals for the way forward. "The Member Associations Committee has decided to send a FIFA/AFC fact-finding mission to Pakistan to discuss with all parties, assess the situation and at a later stage make concrete proposals for the way forward," a FIFA spokesperson told ‘The News’ on Thursday.

When this correspondent asked FIFA about the expected schedule of the visit of the delegation to Pakistan, the FIFA spokesperson said: "Further updates will be provided in due course." This correspondent also learnt that some members of the AFC could not attend the Zurich meeting due to their engagement in the AFC elections scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (tomorrow).

This will be the second time in almost four years when the world body will send a mission to Pakistan to make an effort to resolve the dispute. In August 2015, a FIFA delegation visited Lahore. After meeting with both the parties it submitted its report with FIFA and the world body decided to give a two-year extension to Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) until September 2017 to revise the constitution and hold fresh elections.

When the PFF could not act as advised by FIFA, the world body in October 2018 extended the PFF mandate until March 2020. In October 2017, FIFA suspended Pakistan because of "third party’s interference". However, the suspension was lifted in March 2018, days after Lahore High Court (LHC) restored PFF.

Currently there are two federations. FIFA recognises Faisal Saleh Hayat-led PFF which once again has lost its control over the PFF headquarters and accounts following the Supreme Court-ordered elections held in December last year. Ashfaq Hussain Shah was elected as the PFF president.

The Supreme Court on March 13, 2019, disposed of the matter after hearing the review petitions from Faisal and others.

“Having heard learned counsel for the applicants, it seems that they have some grievance after the elections have been conducted and new management of PFF has been inducted. If they have such grievance, obviously, the law must have provided remedy to them,” the Supreme Court March 13 order says. “The learned counsel for the applicants states that they may be allowed to avail the remedy available to them before the appropriate forum. In this view of the matter these applications are disposed of. The applicants may avail the remedy, if available to them, before the appropriate forum in accordance with law,” the order says.

After taking over the accounts and headquarters Ashfaq-led body also supervised the final phase of the Pakistan Premier Football League which was won by Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) for a record fifth time here at the KPT Stadium.

When FIFA restored Faisal-led PFF early last year, Pakistan featured in the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia, and the SAFF Cup in Bangladesh under the Brazilian coach and trainer. Pakistan also played a FIFA friendly against Palestine in Al-Ram.

In a bid to prepare the lot for this year’s Olympic Qualifiers and World Cup Qualifiers, Faisal-led PFF also sent the team to Doha for training in December last year. The PFF elections under the apex court’s instructions held the same month once again placed a full stop to national team’s engagement in international circuit.

Pakistan missed the Olympic Qualifiers in Uzbekistan last month. And it is not yet known what will happen to Pakistan’s fate for the World Cup Qualifiers which will be held later this summer.

A senior official of Ashfaq-led body was happy with the outcome. "It’s in our favour that FIFA is sending a mission to Pakistan," the official told ‘The News’. FIFA-recognised PFF president Faisal is set to become the first Pakistani to be elected unopposed as the AFC vice-president in the continental body’s Congress in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (tomorrow).

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