KARACHI: Pakistan football has seen a number of unwelcome stoppages in the recent past.

Over the last five years, the game has come to a hold on several occasions due to a fierce battle ensuing for the control of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).

Those dark days seemed to have come to an end when global football body FIFA appointed a Normalisation Committee last September to oversee the PFF affairs. The committee’s job was to not only run football affairs but most importantly, hold fresh elections of the PFF by June this year.

Things seemed rosy. The PFF Normalisation Committee organised the National Women’s Championship before starting the first season of the second-division of the Pakistan Football Federation League (PFFL) since 2015. Until the coronavirus pandemic erupted, seeing the PFFL season interrupted and postponed whilst also putting a stop to election-related work.

On Saturday, the PFF Normalisation Committee announced revised compositions of the provincial FA committees which are to hold club scrutiny — the first step towards the elections. And FIFA said it had seen encouraging developments made by it’s appointed committee during these challenging times of a global virus outbreak which has claimed 120,000 lives.

“As far as the general impact of COVID-19 on Pakistan’s football activities is concerned, we can only reiterate that health remains FIFA’s absolute priority and we encourage everyone to put health first,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn on Monday night.

“In terms of the work done by the PFF Normalisation Committee, we have seen encouraging developments as the Committee has been working hard to fulfil its mandate within a challenging environment.”

With the country under a lockdown to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, it seems very unlikely that the PFF Normalisation Committee would be able to hold the elections by June. It is very likely that the Normalisation Committee would be given an extension.

“For the time being we have no updates on the PFF elections,” added the FIFA spokesperson.

PFF elections have almost always been rife with disagreements but none was as controversial as the one in 2015 which saw the country’s football governing body split into two factions and bring forth an era of crisis in Pakistan football.

There have been elements trying to disrupt the working of the PFF Normalisation Committee, accusing it of bias, but its spokesperson told Dawn on Tuesday that decisions “should be accepted by all football officials since the committee has representation of all stakeholders.”

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2020