LAHORE: The newly-elected body of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), though facing an uphill task of being recognized by the International football body FIFA since its elections held two months ago, has appointed Sheikh Muhammad Siddique as its general secretary here on Monday.

The decision was taken at the Executive Committee meeting of the PFF, presided over by its president Syed Ashfaq Hussain at the FIFA House here.

The announcement was made amid a barrage of questions from the media about the future of the Pakistan football since FIFA is yet to recognize the newly-elected body. Besides, the previous head of PFF, Faisal Saleh Hayat, has been elected as the vice president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) last week from the South Zone and that has added more pressure on the current PFF set up.

However, the incumbent president PFF Syed Ashfaq welcomed the elections of Faisal at AFC and congratulated him foor bagging the job.

“It is good news for us that Faisal has been elected as vice president in the AFC. He is a Pakistani and hopefully will be helpful for the PFF in getting recognition of the AFC,” Ashfaq said.

But a written statement issued about the PFF executive committee meeting on Monday had adopted a more aggressive tone with reference to Faisal: “A man involved in financial corruption should be investigated rather to be accepted as a candidate. Former President PFF Faisal Saleh Hayat was first rejected by the Congress of PFF and then in the ruling of Supreme Court of Pakistan. So the former president PFF has no right to represent Pakistan in the world football in any capacity.”

Ashfaq was optimistic that after thorough dialogue with the AFC and the FIFA, his body would get their due recognition. “We are in contact with the AFC and the FIFA and we will present our case before them strongly when we will sit down for the dialogue. Inshallah, we will succeed in our mission soon to put the country’s football back on the track,” he said confidently.

Vice-president of the PFF Sardar Navid also supported his president and claimed that Faisal himself agreed with the decision of Supreme Court of holding fresh elections of the PFF after the elections of federation’s Punjab chapter.

He said in the past, FIFA had suspended the membership of Kuwait but later sat down with the Royal family of Kuwait to restore the membership though Kuwait was originally banned due to a dispute in the royal family.

When asked if he was expecting FIFA would also sit down with Prime Minister Imran Khan to solve the issue, he said it is not likely.

“Don’t believe that FIFA will ban Pakistan after listening to only a one-side story,” said Navid. “A FIFA fact finding commission may also come to Pakistan soon. We are not banned by FIFA, but yes there is silence from the international body so far.”

Meanwhile, PFF president said the appointment of Sheikh Siddique would help a lot in bringing back the game on the right track as he had a long 40 years association with the country’s football.

Siddique had served the PFF as Director Development and Youth. He is from Karachi and is a qualified A license football coach/instructor. He had played football for Navy, HBL from 1970 to 1982 before he joined as head coach in 1982 and was manager from 1987 to 2004. He had settled in USA, before he came back to offer his services for the Civil Aviation team.

Siddique said it was an honour for him to serve as secretary PFF and soon the footballers would start their activities on the grounds. He admitted several challenges were ahead of them but with the support of a good team at the helm soon, the desired results would be achieved.

President PFF said the first tournament would start during the ongoing month and a complete schedule of the calendar of activities would be announced soon.

The PFF release further said that the executive committee discussed the points relating to fresh elections at district and provincial levels, to discuss development programmes including referee and coaching courses, formation of football academies and strengthening relations with FIFA and AFC.

Meanwhile, president also complained that the previous body had taken away all the records of the federation and not a single paper was received by him. He also complained that the previous bodies had also damaged the infrastructure of the FIFA House building.

It may be mentioned here that the same kind of allegations were also raised by Faisal’s body, when it took back the charge of the FIFA House from the Lahore High Court’s appointed Administrator last year.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2019

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