KARACHI: Not being the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) president isn’t going to stop Faisal Saleh Hayat from becoming the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) vice-president.
Hayat is the only candidate for the vice-president slot from South Asia after Asia’s football governing body — which still holds him as the Pakistan’s football chief despite the Supreme Court holding fresh PFF elections in December last year — confirmed the final list of candidates who will stand for election at the AFC Congress in Kuala Lumpur on April 6.
Hayat, who was the PFF chief since 2003 before deciding to not contest the SC-ordered PFF election after terming it as a contravention of FIFA statutes, had initially also announced that he will compete for a slot on the FIFA Council — the utmost decision-making committee of the global football body.
FIFA couldn’t be immediately reached to ascertain whether Hayat had failed to clear the eligibility checks conducted by the FIFA Review Committee or had simply withdrawn from the race.
Four years ago, Hayat had also contested for the AFC vice-president slot but withdrew on the eve of the election in favour of India’s Praful Patel. Then, the PFF had claimed he’d done so in order to secure matches for Pakistan against their South Asian rivals. None of that materialised.
Pakistan football has been in doldrums since Hayat got himself re-elected controversially as the PFF chief in 2015. A legal battle ensued, putting the game on the backburner. With FIFA not accepting the SC-ordered PFF election, which it terms as “third-party interference” into the matters of its member association, the crisis remains.
Patel, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president who was promoted to the role of AFC’s senior vice-president in 2016, will be fighting for a slot on the FIFA Council.
Meanwhile, AFC president Sheikh Salman — who has been at the helm since 2013 — faces opposition from Qatar’s Saoud Al-Mohannadi and UAE’s Mohamed Khalfan Al-Rumaithi.
Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2019