LAHORE, Aug 28: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) elections ended on a dismal note on Thursday when general council formally elected Faisal Saleh Hayat president in his absence as he failed to attend the meeting because of his engagements.

“The new president was scheduled to reach Lahore, but he did not attend the general council meeting owing to his meeting on law and order with the President Gen Pervez Musharraf,” the newly-elected PFF secretary Arshad Khan Lodhi told a press briefing after the elections.

Faisal is the interior minister, while Arshad is the Punjab agriculture minister.

Football has been suffering from indifferent attitude of the officials who in the past had given little or no time because of their political commitments. Former president Mian Mohammad Azhar and secretary Agha Liaquat Ali, both were involved in national politics.

The elections proved to be musical chairs after few previous office-bearers managed to get elected on other posts as the general council elected the entire panel unopposed that filed its nomination on Aug 25.

Apart from new president and secretary who are the new faces, former secretary Agha Liaquat and vice-president Abbas Baloch stick to the PFF after being elected senior vice-president and vice-president respectively. Wing-commander Pervaiz Saeed Mir has been elected the treasurer.

Arshad admitted that a minister was considered to be a busy personality, but added an individual of high stature would benefit the game.

The secretary said to deal with the problem there were a good number of officials in the PFF who would be assigned different jobs to share burden of work on the president. He vowed that he would try his best to give sufficient time to football.

He said the body which had been elected by the general council unanimously had decided to launch the national league as both Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA had been pressing hard to start it.

The league at the district and provincial level would be held in October, while at the national level from January to April, 2004. It would be held annually during the same months, he claimed.

He said the council had estimated an expenditure of Rs4.5 million   for holding the league for which sponsors would provide the funds. He hoped PFF would be able to find the sponsors.

Arshad said general council discussed the Goal Project and would form a committee to decide whether it would be launched in Lahore or Karachi.

However, Abbas Baloch had claimed the other day the Goal Project, under which a football House is to be built, had been shifted to Karachi after the PFF failed to acquire a piece of land in Lahore.

He said it had been decided the Football House would be built in Karachi if Sindh government would allot the plot in Karachi by Aug 31 or the committee would discuss the matter later.

He said FIFA, which had earmarked $400,000 for project, would same amount to construct a Football House in any other main city, but only after the completion of the first project.

Arshad, however, failed to explain why PFF failed to seek a land in Lahore for the football House.

“I was not holding a responsible office in the PFF previously but now I ensure that I will get a piece of land for the Football House,” he vowed.

However, Agha Liaquat who never gave a satisfactory reply on the subject during his four-year tenure as secretary, explained “changing political atmosphere in the country went against the Football House.”

“Mian Azhar had to lead a main political party and then engaged himself in campaign for elections, therefore, he could not find time for football,” he said.

Arshad said the general council did not consider to waive off 10-year ban imposed on the former PFF secretary Hafiz Salman Butt. He said any decision would be taken when the “time would come.”

Liaquat finally conceded that ban on Salman had been imposed by PFF whereas FIFA had only declared him persona non grata.

PFF, while announcing the ban in 1995 had claimed that FIFA had imposed the 10-year ban on Salman.

It has been learnt Salman had come with an application to request the council to waive off the ban. But he could not present the application as Faisal did not attend the meeting.

Arshad said local coaches would be preferred in preparing national and other teams. He said the communication gap between the foreign coaches and a local player was difficult due to language problem.

Asked would PFF again hire the services of foreign coaches if offered by the AFC next year, he said that the matter would be discussed when a concrete proposal would come from the Asian body.

He said PFF would organize Under-14, Under-16 and Under-19   tournaments to hone the skills of young footballers.

Arshad different committees would be constituted and he had appointed Qayyum Changezi the chairman of the selection committee in place M.N Jahan.

Office-bearers:

President: Faisal Saleh Hayat (Punjab).

Senior-vice-president: Syed Agha Liaquat Ali (Balochistan).

Vice-presidents: Ghulam Abbas Baloch (Sindh), Syed Zahir Ali Shah (NWFP).

Secretary-general: Arshad Khan Lodhi (Punjab).

Treasurer: Wg-Cdr Pervaiz Saeed Mir (PAF).

Associate secretaries: Ronaq Ali Rajput (Sindh), Naseebullah Khan (Balochistan).

Executive committee members:

Mohammad Ilyas (NWFP), Malik Abdul Aziz (Punjab), Mohammad Shafi Akhund (Sindh), Mohammad Jan Maree (Balochistan), Sohaib Butt (Wapda), Brig Arif Mahmood Siddiqui (Army), Qazi Mohammad Asif (NWFP, representative of referees).

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