KARACHI: PFF Normalisation Committee chairman Humza Khan (C) and director of women’s football development Raheela Zarmeen address a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday.
KARACHI: PFF Normalisation Committee chairman Humza Khan (C) and director of women’s football development Raheela Zarmeen address a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday.

KARACHI: Humza Khan doesn’t really hold back. He’s frank and candid, and in his first news conference as the chairman of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee he didn’t hide the challenges he’s facing.

Three months into the job, he spoke at length here on Thursday on the problems he’s encountered in holding the elections of the PFF Executive Committee by the end of his mandate in June this year.

“We don’t have a magic wand that we can just come in and hold the election,” said Humza. “There are several steps before that and the most important, as our mandate says, is that we have to hold club scrutiny which is a long and tedious process.

“In order to hold the club scrutiny, we will have to either organise inter-district tournaments and see which clubs show up or we have to send missions to each district. Either way, we will require funding from FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) which isn’t open to us at the moment.”

FIFA and the AFC stopped funding to the PFF at the start of last year after Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah, who won an election held by the Supreme Court, became the country’s football chief.

FIFA, which doesn’t accept interference into the matters of its member associations, recognised Faisal Saleh Hayat as the PFF supremo at that time and in September installed a Normalisation Committee led by Humza to resolve the crisis in Pakistan football.

Yet the Normalisation Committee remains in a limbo due to the lack of funding.

“We need to conduct an audit of 2018 and send it to FIFA and AFC for the resumption of funding,” said Humza. “The problem remains that we don’t have the necessary documentation to conduct the audit.”

Last month, two-member delegations each from FIFA and AFC visited the country with the visits aimed at sorting out the funding to the PFF.

“We can confirm that the FIFA delegation held talks with the Normalisation Committee and other PFF stakeholders on a number of topics, including finances and governance. Based on the said talks, FIFA will now work with the Normalisation Committee to find the best way forward to promote football development in Pakistan,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn after the visit.

“[FIFA’s] Forward funding, including the respective requirements to be fulfilled by the member association, was also part of the discussions held by the FIFA delegation in Pakistan.”

The AFC did not respond to queries from Dawn regarding the discussions during the visit of its delegation. However, Dawn has learnt that it’s delegation is working on a report of its visit. The resumption of funding will be on the basis of that report.

Well-placed sources in both FIFA and AFC have told Dawn that there remain several concerns over how the PFF of Hayat used the funds given to it. One of the options given to the PFF Normalisation Committee is to have a firm give a qualified audit report for 2018 before an investigation is conducted.

Humza did not confirm whether the PFF Normalisation Committee was going to get a qualified audit report, which raise questions over the company’s financial transparency, but said they were using the best means possible to get the process done.

He did, however, confirm that the Hayat faction had created hurdles in handing over the financial documentation. Humza’s appointment was met by fierce resistance from the followers of Hayat with the former PFF chief himself terming it “controversial, biased, and agenda-driven”.

“We’re trying our best means to get the audit done,” Humza said.

In the meantime, Humza said that the PFF Normalisation Committee was focusing on reviving the sport in the country.

Football has suffered badly over the last several years due to PFF crisis, which began after a controversial election held by Hayat in 2014. With the news conference organised to mark the start of the final round of the National Women’s Championship, Humza said that his body was working on helping the game recover from the damage.

“In a very short space of time, we’ve been able to send the Under-19 team to the qualifiers of the AFC Under-19 Championship while the national men’s team is also going to Malaysia for a training tour later this month,” he said.

“The final round of the National Women’s Championship is also underway and we’ve achieved all this in a very short space of time. This is just the beginning and I can assure you that in the next six months, there is more football to look forward to.”

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2020