KARACHI: The Faisal Saleh Hayat faction of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) claimed on Tuesday that its controversial elections were upheld by FIFA.
But hours later, FIFA said it had no update on that while a well-placed source within the world’s football governing body quashed those claims as “pure speculation”.
The Pakistan issue was discussed by FIFA’s Associations Committee meeting on Monday before the matter had been forwarded to its Executive Committee, which meets on Friday.
The PFF has been mired in crisis and controversy over the last several months after it split into two factions ahead of its presidential elections which were scheduled for June 30.
The split in the PFF saw one faction headed by incumbent president Hayat and the other by presidential contender and vice-president Zahir Ali Shah before the Lahore High Court (LHC) intervened.
It ordered a stay on the elections but Hayat’s camp went ahead and conducted its election in Changla Gali which saw him being re-elected before he was issued a contempt notice and the LHC appointed an administrator — Justice Asad Munir — to take care of PFF affairs.
The LHC also declared those elections null and void.
In the meantime, FIFA sent a fact-finding mission to Pakistan last month which discussed at length the matters of the PFF with the two warring groups, findings of which were discussed at the Associations Committee meeting on Monday.
And the Hayat faction claimed a decision had been passed in its favour.
“FIFA Member Associations Committee met yesterday,” Hayat’s PFF wrote on its Facebook page. “It discussed the ongoing football issues in Pakistan football and the committee validated that the PFF elections held in Changla Gali and recognised Faisal Saleh Hayat as the PFF president for the term 2015-2019.
“The formal statement will be released in the FIFA ExCo meeting scheduled to be held on Sept 26,” it added.
Sardar Naveed Haider Khan, controversially elected Punjab Football Association (PFA) president in April which ultimately led to the split in the PFF, told Dawn: “Elections upheld but recommended changes in the PFF statutes to be communicated by FIFA ExCo in due course.”
It was indeed the row with the PFF statutes that led to the rift in the country’s football governing body. And members of the other faction questioned how FIFA could approve elections which were held with a disputed constitution.
“It’s unthinkable really that FIFA will uphold those elections which were held with several amendments in the constitution — amendments which weren’t ratified by FIFA,” Zahir Shah told Dawn on Tuesday.
“We told the fact-finding mission about them and they more or less agreed with us that the elections were held with an improper constitution.”
When FIFA was asked about the upholding of PFF elections, its spokesperson told Dawn: “We have no updates on yesterday’s statement.”
In a statement to Dawn on Monday, the spokesperson had said: “The situation of the Pakistan Football Federation was discussed at today’s FIFA Associations Committee. The Committee has decided to submit the matter to the FIFA Executive Committee which will decide on further action.”
A well-placed source in FIFA, however, told Dawn that the Associations Committee hadn’t upheld anything regarding the PFF elections.
“That’s pure speculation,” the source said. “The Associations Committee has not upheld anything. It’s gone to the ExCo which will decide.”
The FIFA ExCo has been widely-criticised for the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar with the recent FIFA scandal adding fuel to the fire.
Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, has called for reducing the power of the ExCo in his reform plan for the world’s football governing body.
FIFA is facing huge pressure to reform following the May indictment by US authorities of nine current and former football officials on bribery-related charges. Many of them had served on FIFA’s ExCo or in other FIFA positions.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd , 2015