KARACHI: The wait is over. And with it, there is genuine hope that Pakistan football’s long-running problems will be over too.
Global football body FIFA on Friday announced the Normalisation Committee for the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), naming Humza Khan as its chairman, four years after a controversial election threw football in the country into an unprecedented crisis.
The main job for the Humza-led Normalisation Committee will be to hold fresh elections of the PFF by 15 June 2020 — after which the mandate of his body will expire.
“It’s a massive responsibility,” Humza, a former captain of Karachi United FC, told Dawn after the announcement was made via a news release on the FIFA website. “Being a footballer, and having played for Karachi United at a very high level, at times there was disillusionment because football wasn’t flourishing in the country.
“FIFA has given me a chance to do something for the game in the country and I’ll try to do my best,” added the 40-year-old investment banker who will have former PFF general secretary retired Col Mujahidullah Tareen, Sikander Khattak, Munir Ahmed Khan Sadhana and Syed Hasan Najib Shah as members on the committee.
“I haven’t met any of the members,” he said. “I’ll be meeting with them for the first time although FIFA did brief me about their conversations with the selected candidates.”
Some 17 candidates were interviewed by FIFA for the four member slots, their nominations given by the two warring factions of the PFF, which emerged following its disputed elections of 2015.
Since then, football has been in turmoil in the country and it took FIFA until June this year to finally announce that it was going to establish a Normalisation Committee, which in addition to holding fresh elections will also be responsible for running the day-to-day affairs of the PFF.
That decision also meant FIFA had to backtrack on an earlier mandate it had given to the Faisal Saleh Hayat-led PFF until March 2020 to ratify the PFF statutes and hold fresh elections.
Hayat, PFF president since 2003, isn’t however recognised domestically as Pakistan’s football chief. That title belongs to Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah who was elected as PFF president in an election held on the orders of the Supreme Court in December last year. That election came at the culmination of a nearly four-year legal battle over the control of Pakistan’s football but wasn’t accepted by FIFA.
Col Mujahid and Sikander were amongst the seven persons nominated by the Ashfaq-led group while Munir and Hasan were nominated by Hayat.
“The process to select the Normalisation Committee members for the PFF has been implemented following the standard procedures that are applied for such processes,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn on Tuesday, following resentment from some quarters over some of their nominated candidates being rejected.
Munir is a lawyer from Jhang, Hayat’s hometown, while Sikander, an engineer, hails from Ashfaq’s hometown of Peshawar.
Col Mujahid, meanwhile, worked in the PFF as its general secretary and its technical director before leaving the federation in 2006 as he didn’t see eye-to-eye with Hayat.
“It’s an honour for me that FIFA has given me this huge opportunity,” the former Pakistan captain told Dawn on Friday. “It was now or never really. If the normalisation committee — and the right normalisation committee — hadn’t come now, Pakistan football would’ve remained in doldrums.“During the interview, I told the FIFA officials that twice in the past, in 1989 and 1994, they had appointed normalisation committees and there had been little change. Thankfully this time FIFA has realised that the problem starts from the grassroot level and that club scrutiny was required to hold free and fair elections.”
FIFA said the “normalisation committee members will assume their duties with immediate effect” and they will have to pass an eligibility check.
“The PFF normalisation committee will act as an electoral committee whose decisions are final and binding,” FIFA added. “As such, none of its members will be eligible for any of the open positions in the elections under any circumstances, including in the event that their mandate as a member of the PFF normalisation committee has been revoked or that they resign from their position.
“The specified period of time during which the PFF normalisation committee will perform its functions will expire as soon as it has fulfilled all of its tasks, but no later than nine months after its members have been officially appointed by FIFA – which means on 15 June 2020.
“The premises and bank accounts of the PFF are to be handed over to the PFF normalisation committee by no later than 20 September 2019.”
With the most important decision taken by FIFA, the process to put the PFF house in order begins now. The normalisation committee now faces a race against time to first conduct the scrutiny of clubs before drafting the electoral code with FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and finally hold elections from the districts all the way up to the PFF presidential polls.
“It’s a clear mandate,” said Humza. “The most important, the most challenging job is to hold the election. It depends on multiple factors whether we will be able to do all this in nine months but we will give it our best.”
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2019