Thursday May 23, 2024

FIFA ratifies Pakistan’s suspension

By Our Correspondent
May 22, 2021

KARACHI: FIFA Congress on Friday ratified the suspension of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF). As many as 203 members out of the 207 attending the 71st virtual FIFA Congress voted in favour of the Bureau of the FIFA Council’s step to suspend Pakistan on April 7, 2021, for the third party’s interference.

Only one member association said ‘No’. Chadian Football Association (CFA) was the other whose suspension was also ratified by the Congress. FIFA president Gianni Infantino hopes suspension can lift soon.

After suspending Pakistan early last month FIFA had issued the press release which stated: “As the situation remains unchanged, the Bureau of the Council has decided to suspend the PFF. This suspension will only be lifted once FIFA has received confirmation from the normalisation committee of the PFF that the PFF’s premises, accounts, administration and communication channels are again under its full control and it can continue to carry out its mandate without further hindrance.”

FIFA had suspended Pakistan days after Ashfaq Group reassumed control of the PFF headquarters in Lahore.

Ashfaq Group had to occupy the headquarters after the FIFA-installed Normalisation Committee failed to do anything solid towards holding the PFF elections despite having served for 18 months which also saw its chairman Humza Khan getting resigned due to various reasons. Ashfaq Group on Wednesday during a news conference leaked some videotapes exposing NC and some external actors with links in both FIFA and the AFC seemingly busy in manipulating the future PFF elections.

At the same time Ashfaq Group also categorically stated that they would not give the PFF headquarters control to any one.

Meanwhile, the PFF NC under Canada-based Haroon Malik claimed that Pakistan avoided any further sanctions due to its (NC) positive steps.

“Today at FIFA Congress Pakistan suspension was ratified. And due to the positive steps taken by the Normalisation Committee any further sanctions were avoided,” the NC statement said.

“The suspension can be lifted once Normalisation Committee Chairman Haroon Malik, requests FIFA for lifting the suspension. This is the most positive outcome that was possible given the ongoing occupation of the PFF Headquarters by Ashfaq Shah group,” the NC said.

Following years of conflict between two groups eventually FIFA installed NC in September 2019 by giving it the mandate until June 2020 to hold the elections at the district, provincial and PFF levels besides having given it the task to conduct club registration and scrutiny.

However, the NC under Humza Khan failed to meet the nine-month mandate which was further extended. Again the six-month mandate was not met. Near the end of last year Humza resigned and FIFA brought in Haroon Malik as a new chairman. It also replaced members of the NC to give it a fresh look. Realising that Haroon was also not going to take a step forward towards holding the elections Ashfaq Group decided to take the PFF control. Ashfaq Group, who had formed the PFF in the elections held under the Supreme Court instructions in December 2018, had given the charge to the NC in September 2019 for transparent elections.