KARACHI: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has served notices on Faisal Saleh Hayat, Sardar Naveed Haider Khan and retired Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi for attending the FIFA Extraordinary Congress in Zurich, which saw Gianni Infantino elected as new chief of world football, on February 26 despite an earlier order by the honourable court.

Notices have been served on the trio after Rana Mohammad Ashraf filed a writ petition No. 704/W/2016 through advocate Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali before the LHC, accusing Hayat, Sardar and Lodhi of impersonating as Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) delegation in FIFA’s electoral congress despite the court having appointed an administrator — retired Justice Asad Munir — to run the country’s football body.

FIFA, however, still recognised Hayat as PFF president, Lodhi as the general secretary and Sardar as vice-president although they’ve been given a two-year mandate after disputed elections of the national football federation last year.

The PFF split into two factions heading into its presidential election after a dubious poll — results of which were officially announced four days later — of the Punjab Football Association (PFA) which saw Hayat-backed Sardar being elected as the provincial chief.

With the two factions heading into an election on June 30, the LHC intervened and ordered a stay on the election. However, Hayat went on and held the election in which he was re-elected president and Sardar getting the vice-president seat — a move that saw Hayat issued a contempt notice and the LHC appointing Munir as the PFF administrator in its decision on July 23 last year.

With the dispute in the PFF snowballing, FIFA intervened and in a decision labelled by many as “destroying Pakistan football further” stood behind Hayat and gave him two years to hold elections again with a constitution in line with FIFA statutes.

“The decision by FIFA hasn’t solved the crisis,” several local coaches told Dawn during the All Pakistan Aman Football Tournament held earlier this month. “They’ve made the situation even more confusing y giving the Hayat group two years.

“If the elections were correct, they should’ve given him a full mandate but giving him two years has created a rift which is destroying Pakistan football further.

“There should’ve been a normalisation committee as in the current scenario, the national team has also been missing in action.”

Strangely, though, while the national team has failed to appear in international competitions — the most glaring absence coming in the SAFF Championship in December-January last year — the PFF officials have been in attendance at FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) meetings.

In the FIFA election that saw Infantino, former secretary of Europe’s football governing body UEFA, elected as its president, the PFF had thrown its weight behind AFC president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

LHC Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan issued notices to the respondents on March 18 to file their reply on May 4.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2016

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