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March 31, 2021

FIFA warns of suspending Pakistan’s membership

Sports

March 31, 2021

KARACHI: FIFA on Tuesday warned Pakistan of suspension if the PFF secretariat in Lahore was not handed over back to the FIFA-installed Normalisation Committee by 8pm on Wednesday (today).

The warning came through the FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, who wrote a letter to Haroon Malik, the NC chairman on Tuesday.

“Should the illegitimate occupation of the PFF headquarters not be lifted and the office bearers recognised by FIFA not be permitted free access to the building by Wednesday 31 March 2021 at 20:00 (Lahore time), at the latest, in order for them to carry out their mandate as instructed by FIFA, the matter shall be immediately submitted to the Bureau of the Council for decision, which might include the suspension of PFF on the basis of art. 16 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes,” the letter said.

“Finally, we would like to recall that a suspension would mean that PFF loses all of its membership rights, as defined in art. 13 of the FIFA Statutes, with immediate effect and until further notice, including, but not limited to, the right of PFF’s national teams or any of its clubs to participate in any international competitions, as well as the right of PFF and its Members to benefit from FIFA’s financial/development programmes,” it added.

On Saturday, Ashfaq Hussain-led group occupied the PFF headquarters after their congress showed dissatisfaction over the performance of the Normalisation Committee. It is the group which was elected in the December 2018 elections held under the orders of the Supreme Court. The group gave the charge of the headquarters and accounts to the NC in September 2019, saying it expected fair and transparent elections.

In the letter, Samoura said: “. . . FIFA has learned of the unfortunate incidents that took place at the headquarters of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) in Lahore, and during which PFF officials and employees had to be evacuated after the offices had been invaded by a group of protestors, who support Mr Syed Ashfaq Hussain.

“While FIFA strongly condemns the incidents and considers such actions to be totally unacceptable, we would like to remind all relevant parties, in particular the individuals who invaded the PFF premises, that the normalisation committee of PFF, established by a decision of the Bureau of the Council and later ratified by the FIFA Council, and which is currently led by your person, is the sole executive body of PFF recognised by FIFA,” the letter said.

“The illegitimate occupation of the PFF headquarters as well as any decision to take over the leadership of the PFF from the normalisation committee appointed by FIFA, constitutes an undue interference in the affairs of the Federation, therefore violating the obligations imposed on PFF by art. 14 par. 1 let. i) and art. 19 of the FIFA Statutes,” the letter added.

Meanwhile, in reply to 'The News' query, FIFA spokesman said on Tuesday: “Both FIFA and the AFC strongly condemn the incidents that have taken place at the headquarters of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) in Lahore, in which PFF staff had to be evacuated after the offices were stormed by a group of protestors.

“As per the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council, the normalisation committee is the sole entity recognised by FIFA, and has been appointed to manage the activities of the PFF until 30 June 2021 as per its current mandate. This latest incident has regretfully caused severe disruption in the ability of the normalisation committee to deliver their mandate,” the spokesman said.

“FIFA and the AFC demand that the parties that have occupied the PFF headquarters immediately hand back the premises to the normalisation committee or the matter will be referred to the Bureau of the FIFA Council, the consequences of which may include suspension of the PFF as per FIFA statutes,” the spokesman added.

When this correspondent approached Ashfaq, he said FIFA should hold accountable the NC members who did not do anything for elections in 18 long months.

“What have they done so far towards holding elections? They wasted time and money of FIFA. We had handed over to the NC the charge in September 2019 in good faith as we hoped that NC would hold fair and transparent elections but it has left us utterly disappointed,” Ashfaq said.

He said they had the mandate till the end of 2022 and would do their best for football development.

He said that he time and again informed FIFA about what was being done by NC but the world body did not bother to even reply to his letters.