PFF efforts to wrestle funds for ghost project exposed

Published June 8, 2015
Pakistani footballers during a practice session. — AFP/File
Pakistani footballers during a practice session. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The funds which were meant to be utilised for building a football training centre in Jhang now rest in a fixed deposit account with the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) eating off interest on it.

The funds were for a flood relief project in the district, sanctioned by South Korea’s Dr Chung Mong-Joon and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) who combined to give US$650,000 of the US$769,000 envisage project.

Out of that, $400,000 were commissioned by Dr Chung for the construction of the Jhang Football Stadium and a training centre with the PFF claiming that the footballing infrastructure in the district had been ravaged by the devastating floods of 2010.

The PFF, in a letter to then-AFC general secretary Alex Soosay on Nov 17, 2011, suggested it to release the amount sanctioned by Dr Chung and the $250,000 set aside by Asia’s football governing body.

The PFF proceeded to saying that it will generate by itself the remaining $119,000 for the project but there were no details in the letter highlighting what sports infrastructure was damaged in the Jhang district by the floods.

The AFC transferred the amount promised by Dr Chung, adding that it will hand over the remaining funds immediately after receiving a general overview of the project, construction plan and schedule by the appointed contractor and a detailed budget. That was later released after the PFF completed all the AFC requirements through a letter dated Nov 28, 2011.

“We wish to receive some information on the construction of a football stadium and training centre so that we can report to the AFC Social Responsibility Committee and Executive Committee accordingly,” Soosay said in a letter to PFF general secretary Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi on Nov 8, 2011.

“AFC agrees to your proposal for using the donation from Dr Chung and already remitted to your account, however we need more information to transfer another US$ 250,000 from AFC.”

The PFF replied in a letter on Nov 28, 2011, stating: “The master plan of Jhang Football Academy/Training Centre designed and devised by Anjum Adil and Associates, Karachi is forwarded herewith as desired for early release of the remaining USD 250,000 to PFF.”

The PFF, however, deposited the amount in a fixed account to earn monthly profits to meet its annual expenditure, Lodhi confirmed.

“The amount was deposited in a fixed deposit account as we wanted to reduce our deficit budget,” Lodhi told Dawn.

“The PFF tried to search a land for the project in Jhang, but we failed to get a land and instead of wasting the money, it decided to invest it in a fixed account.”

Asked if the decision was taken with the consent of the AFC, Lodhi said: “The situation was in the notice of the donor. The PFF needs Rs100 million annually to meet its expenditures, therefore, that amount is helping a lot in meeting the annual budget.”

Lodhi further said as the project was designed for Jhang district, which is the hometown of PFF president Faisal Saleh Hayat, and so “it might have been politicised”.

He claims the budget of the PFF is regularly audited and therefore “nothing wrong could be done with the funds”.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2015

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