LAHORE: For the first time during his long battle to stay Pakistan’s football chief, Faisal Saleh Hayat appeared downcast. Hayat is in a perilous position and it seemed as if he can already see his end.

Hayat announced on Thursday that he will not contest the elections of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) under the orders of the Supreme Court. The move will effectively end his tenure that began in 2003 — at least according to the country’s apex court which has announced elections on December 12.

He’s still finding comfort though at the fact that FIFA sees him as the PFF chief at least until March 2020, till when he’s been instructed to hold fresh elections by the world’s football governing body.

“As PFF president and also having roles in difference FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) committees, I’m bound to follow their rules so I will not contest the elections as FIFA will not accept it,” Hayat told a news conference at the PFF headquarters.

“I have full respect for the Supreme Court decision as it is the supreme institution of the country. And no one can disobey its orders. But unfortunately the process that it being followed is against the PFF Constitution.”

On Tuesday, FIFA said that the election order by the SC was “incompatible” with the decision its Members Associations Committee had taken which has given the PFF a roadmap to hold fresh elections till March 2020.

It added that the elections under the orders of the SC were “third-party interference” and said that it could result in a ban on the PFF.

The Supreme Court, in its order in March, had first ordered an election of the Punjab Football Association (PFA) before the PFF polls. FIFA had not raised any objection to the PFA election that was held in April.

“The honourable court had ordered the PFA elections first and then the PFF elections but while the former were held correctly, the court-appointed returning officer [Shoaib Shaheen] is implementing his own roadmap, ignoring PFF’s constitution and has changed the members of the Congress,” Hayat argued.

“After holding the PFA elections, a report was submitted to the apex court, which did not issue any further order about PFF president and disposed off the petition. According to the law, the review petition should have been filed in 30 days but the petitioner filed it after five months against which the fresh elections were ordered and I’m in consultation with my legal team to file an appeal against the decision.”

He said the PFF risked another suspension by FIFA. The PFF was banned for a six-month period, which ended in March, when FIFA objected to a Lahore High Court-appointed administrator handling PFF affairs.

Hayat claimed he’d brought Pakistan football back on track since the ban but didn’t gave a satisfactory answer when he was asked that he’d only a few weeks ago said he was confident of winning the PFF polls.

“I’m not running away [fearing defeat],” he said. “We’ve been totally reliant on FIFA and AFC funding for all these years to develop football without the support of the government and we’re only following their rules.”

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2018

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