‘Court v FIFA now’ as world body upholds PFF elections

Published November 6, 2015
FIFA Executive Committee decided that Faisal Saleh Hayat and the remaining Executive Committee members who stood for election on 30th June 2015 are recognised as the PFF office-holders for a two-year period. — Reuters/File
FIFA Executive Committee decided that Faisal Saleh Hayat and the remaining Executive Committee members who stood for election on 30th June 2015 are recognised as the PFF office-holders for a two-year period. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: The FIFA Executive Committee has given its backing to Faisal Saleh Hayat but the Lahore High Court (LHC) doesn’t accept his election as the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) president.

And now it’s the LHC, which ordered a stay on the June 30 elections of the PFF after it split into two factions, versus the world’s football governing body, which is mired in crisis itself.

Moving on from its Sept 25 Executive Committee decision on the PFF situation, FIFA has said that it has accepted the elections held by Hayat in Changla Gali.

In a letter to the PFF on Tuesday, which was disclosed to the media on Thursday, FIFA’s acting secretary general Marco Villiger declared that the world body was bound by “the decision of its Executive Committee.”

The letter was addressed to Arshad Khan Lodhi, the former PFF vice-president who lost his Punjab Football Association (PFA) presidency to PFF’s marketing consultant and Hayat-backed Sardar Naveed Haider Khan in the controversial polls in April — the row eventually resulting in the PFF splitting into two factions.

Ordering a stay on PFF’s presidential elections, the LHC appointed an administrator — Justice Asad Munir — to run the affairs of the country’s football body.

“We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 7 October 2015, the contents of which received our full attention,” writes Villiger, formerly FIFA’s legal director, in the letter.

“With regard to the current situation of the PFF, FIFA is bound by the decision of its Executive Committee on 25 September 2015 and will focus on its full implementation under the supervision of Mr. [Costakis] Koutsoukomnis.”

Koutsoukomnis, who is a member of FIFA’s associations committee, led a three-member delegation of FIFA on a fact-finding mission to Pakistan in which he held talks with both PFF factions before submitting its findings to the Executive Committee.

‘ILLEGAL OCCUPATION’

“In particular, the FIFA Executive Committee decided that Mr Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat and the remaining Executive Committee members who stood for election on 30th June 2015 are recognised as the PFF office-holders for a two-year period during which a revision of the PFF Statutes needs to be completed and new elections held,” adds Villiger.

Villiger, who stepped up as FIFA’s secretary general after Jerome Valcke was suspended for 90 days last month in brewing crisis that has engulfed FIFA, incidentally was the man who suggested several changes in the PFF Constitution in order to make it comply with the FIFA statutes.

He concludes the letter, saying: “Consequently, the occupation of the PFF premises is deemed illegal and they must be returned to the leadership recognised by the FIFA Executive Committee.”

Both factions of the PFF, however, agreed that it was “court v FIFA” now.

“It’s LHC against FIFA now,” a source in the anti-Hayat faction, told Dawn on Thursday.

“We’ll wait for the decision of the LHC, which we hold in the highest esteem. We won’t leave the PFF House until the LHC instructs us to.”

A member of the Hayat faction also admitted that it was a case of the LHC up against FIFA now but said the decision was a victory for them.

“It’s a victory for us,” the source told Dawn on Thursday. “I can’t comment on the LHC being against the elections now but court or the government is third party interference which is not acceptable to FIFA.”

‘MORE CONFUSION THAN CLARITY’

Independent lawyer and football administrator Taha Alizai, meanwhile, termed Villiger’s letter as “creating more confusion than clarity.”

“The latest FIFA communication has created more confusion than clarity as the original ExCo decision never made mention of FIFA ipholding PFF’s alleged June 30 election,” he told Dawn.

“If FIFA’s original decision had upheld the elections, then what was the logic of a two-year term [for Hayat] instead of the full four years. Of course, in all this FIFA is indirectly confirming contempt of court by any party who claims that the alleged elections on June 30 were valid despite LHC orders restraining both factions from conducting elections.

“FIFA obviously deprecates anyone from approaching courts but in this case both parties filed cases and hence the Court order addressed the issues and of course, the law of the land must be respected.

“The issue could’ve been resolved by the elections being conducted pursuant to the Court orders but this is now simply playing into the hands of those who want to pit FIFA v the courts.”

In May last year, Villiger, in an email recommended the PFF to make several amendments to its constitution — including the formation of its legal committee — to which the PFF agreed to.

Yet the PFF constitution wasn’t amended prior to the June 30 polls.

FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Valcke, who is in the running to replace Sepp Blatter in the election on February 26, was of the view that FIFA needed to “make smarter decisions” when asked by Dawn about the world body’s decision to give Hayat a two-year mandate to reform at Play the Game conference in Aarhus last week.

Another presidential candidate David Nakhid, who later dropped out of the race, told Dawn at the same conference that “a normalization committee should’ve been put in place in Pakistan.”

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2015

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