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KARACHI: Global football body FIFA on Wednesday confirmed that the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) of Faisal Saleh Hayat returned unused funding before it was taken over, at the turn of this year, by a newly-elected body led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah on the orders of the Supreme Court.

FIFA’s confirmation came after last week Ashfaq disclosed that there was nothing in the PFF coffers and that Hayat had returned funds amounting to $530,000 to the world’s football governing body and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Both FIFA and the AFC have suspended funding to the PFF in the wake of the new body taking over since they do not recognise the Dec 12 election of the PFF that was held on the Supreme Court orders.

FIFA had already given the PFF of Hayat a mandate until March 2020 following the disputed polls of 2015 that saw the country’s football body go into a long-running legal dispute which ended in April last year when the Supreme Court decision for new elections came.

“In addition to the suspension of development funding to the member association, we can confirm that FIFA has received a repayment of unused development funds from the PFF,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn on Wednesday.

The admission by FIFA may leave Hayat and other former PFF officials facing the wrath of the Supreme Court, which in its April order instructed that “all funds received by PFF from any source and utilised by it for any purpose shall be subject to the scrutiny of this Court”.

Dawn has learnt that the Ashfaq-led body has lodged an appeal at the SC over the transfer of funding while it has also asked the apex court to conduct and audit of the $2,100,000 funding that had been spent by the PFF since March last year.

Last week, the AFC did not confirm to Dawn whether it had been returned any funds by the PFF.

Ahead of the PFF elections last month, FIFA had said that any election of its Pakistan affiliate on the orders of the Supreme Court is tantamount to “third-party interference” which is a contravention of the FIFA statutes.

It also threatened that Pakistan could be suspended for the second time in two years following the six-month ban on the PFF for the same breach from October 2017 to March last year.

In September last year, FIFA’s Member Associations Committee had given Hayat a mandate till March 2020 to conduct fresh elections after reviewing the PFF statutes.

On Wednesday, FIFA said it had “no further comment to make on the matter at this stage”.

Dawn understands that any further decision will be taken when FIFA’s Members Association Committee meets next. According to the FIFA calendar, its standing committees are due to meet from Feb 11 to March 4.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019