KARACHI: Another controversy erupted on Tuesday in the lead-up to Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) most divisive elections in June when it terminated the services of Director Member Associations and Projects Col Farasat Ali Shah.

His misdemeanour, according to the disciplinary committee of the country’s football governing body: Guilty of violating the PFF code of ethics, code of conduct and discipline during the contentious Punjab Football Association (PFA) elections on April 17.

“The disciplinary committee of PFF met yesterday and found Farasat Ali Shah guilty of violating PFF code of ethics, code of conduct and discipline, following which it has suspended him for five years from taking part in any football related activity,” said a sketchy PFF news release on Tuesday. “The disciplinary committee has also directed PFF to terminate the services of Farasat Ali Shah as PFF Director Member Associations and Projects for violation of PFF code of ethics, code of conduct and discipline.”

The news release had no mention of the clauses in the code Farasat had violated but PFF secretary Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi said the official had violated a few of them. “This is a decision of the disciplinary committee and it is they who have decided to terminate him,” Lodhi told Dawn on Tuesday. “There are several articles of the code of conduct,” he added, although failing to correctly identify those. “These things are never to be disclosed.”

When informed that for any such ruling the violated clauses are stated, Lodhi hurriedly dropped the call after saying the PFF will inform about them shortly. No updated news release was sent till the filing of this report.

Farasat had been issued two show-cause notices for what PFF alleges to be his “highly controversial, prejudiced, biased and illegal conduct” in the PFA polls and for his “ongoing attempts to manipulate the PFF elections”.

Farasat, who was elected the Electoral Committee secretary for the PFF elections, told Dawn on Tuesday that he had been dismissed “without a personal hearing” while the PFF had not gone through his reply to the show-cause notices.

“I’ve done nothing wrong except that I’ve challenged [incumbent PFF president] Faisal Saleh Hayat,” Farasat said on Tuesday. “Furthermore, the disciplinary committee of the PFF is chaired by a certain Mohammad Jan Marri who is Hayat’s biggest supporter.

“Hayat has only damaged Pakistan football during the last 12 years [as PFF chief] and I simply can’t see him destroying it further with his dirty politics and can’t side with him.”

A copy of the show-cause notice issued to Farasat and his reply to the PFF were both received by Dawn on Tuesday. Lodhi, meanwhile, said that Farasat “has 15 days to get himself cleared through the appeals committee”.

SHOW-CAUSE NOTICES

In the notice issued to Farasat, the PFF accused him of violating several clauses in article 2 of the code of conduct. Amongst them were “negligence, inattention or inordinate delay” in duty along with “impertinence, insubordination and disorderly behaviour” and “breach and evasion” of rules.

He’s also accused of “disclosing confidential documents or copies relating to PFF or issuing false or baseless press statement against PFF interest.” This accusation regards to one of the statements made to Dawn by Farasat in which he said that the elections of the PFA — which later saw PFF-backed Sardar Naveed Haider Khan getting elected — were never held.

Naveed was fighting against incumbent Arshad Khan Lodhi, who PFF says was being backed by the government.

The suspension of eight voters of Arshad from the 36-member congress saw the elections turn controversial with Farasat declaring in his reply to the show-cause notice that he had consulted with Hayat before providing “written confirmation of postponement of elections to the contesting groups”.

As soon as Farasat left the PFF House, the venue for the elections, Sardar Naveed was declared winner of the polls with 15 votes.

Farasat, in his reply, said a day later he was forced by Hayat and his nephew [Haider Kharal] to “issue a clarification to the press” before also being “offered lucrative posts in the PFF” if he denied what he’d said.

Farasat on Tuesday accused the PFA election commissioner Syed Nayyar Haider, Hayat’s brother-in-law, of being a “coward”. “Nayyar wants me to become a scapegoat for his own inc­o­m­­p­etence in being unable to conduct the elections,” he said.

The PFF, meanwhile, told Farasat that his position of Electoral Committee secretary was “like a post office” and he had no power to “issue statements to the press”.

In his reply, Farasat pointed out to the AFC’s Electoral Code according to which he has the power to “provide distribution of information to members as well as to the media and the public”.

The controversy deepened when Farasat’s brother-in-law and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Football Association (KPFA) chief Zahir Ali Shah decided to stand against his ally Hayat for the PFF polls on June 30. Some observers believe that the imminent threat of Zahir to Hayat’s throne saw the PFF begin accusing Farasat of “favouritism and nepotism by siding with one of the candidates who appears to be his close relative”.

Farasat admits he was appointed in PFF through Zahir but says he was “elected” as Electoral Committee secretary.

As the controversy surrounding the PFF rages on, a spokesman of world’s football governing body FIFA told Dawn on Tuesday that is was merely “monitoring the situation involving the PFF”.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2015

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