KARACHI: Former Punjab Football Association (PFA) president Sardar Naveed Haider Khan might not be able to contest the elections of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) whenever they are held by the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee after a ban on the former PFF marketing consultant was upheld by the PFA Normal­isation Committee that met for the first time on Thursday.

Dawn understands that the ban on Naveed will be ratified by the PFF NC and then by global governing body FIFA in due course.

Naveed was elected as the PFA president in May 2018 but then took part in an election of the PFF held on the orders of the Supreme Court which wasn’t accepted by FIFA.

He was subsequently banned for a period of five years in May last year by PFA officials who were part of the PFF faction which was recognised by FIFA.

The FIFA mission that came to the country to meet stakeholders and take their input regarding the appointment of the Normalisation Committee in September last year also did not meet Naveed.

When asked whether FIFA still considered Naveed a banned official, a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn last week: “For information on this matter please contact the PFF Normalisation Committee.”

Naveed claimed that the ban was an ‘illegal’ one.

“It was revengeful act by [former PFF president] Faisal Saleh Hayat and his cronies to avenge the defeat in the elections [held by the Supreme Court],” he told Dawn. “The mandate of the PFA officials who imposed a ban on me had already expired on March 30, 2019. After the expiry of their mandate, 21 allies of Hayat held an illegal meeting in Lahore and without following any statutes of the PFF or assigning any specific charges, imposed an illegal ban on me.”

The Hayat-led PFF faction was the one which was recognised by FIFA and Naveed’s first attempt to become PFA president in 2015, and his subsequent election to the post in 2018 was with the backing of Hayat.

In 2015, Hayat’s attempts to get Naveed elected as PFA chief backfired spectacularly as the flouting of rules meant Pakistan football was plunged into crisis and controversy for the next five years until FIFA appointed a Normalisation Committee to “put Pakistan football back on track”.

Reliable sources told Dawn that the FIFA ethics committee is investigating three cases of mismanagement against the former PFF officials including Sardar Naveed and Hayat. Dawn has also learnt that one of the cases has been forwarded to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

“This is a matter for FIFA,” an AFC spokesperson told Dawn when asked to confirm about whether one of the cases has come to the AFC.

A FIFA spokesman, meanwhile, reiterated the FIFA Ethics Committee’s general policy of not commenting “on potential ongoing proceedings nor on whether or not investigations are underway into alleged ethics cases. As usual, any information FIFA’s independent bodies may like to share will be communicated accordingly upon their indications.”

In 2015, Dawn revealed Naveed was part of a ploy by the PFF in which tickets for the 2014 FIFA World Cup were sold for inflated prices. He claimed the additional amount charged was “sponsorship money for events that were due to come after the World Cup”.

Naveed said on Thursday he was ‘not bothered’ by the ban since he wouldn’t be standing for the PFA presidency in the next election.

“Mr Amir Dogar will be the candidate from our group for the PFA presidency in the next elections,” he informed, adding that “the illegal NC of Punjab has no standing and cannot pass such defamatory statements against me. I reserve the right to file a law suit against these individuals and seek damages for defamation.”

The PFA NC also said it will take disciplinary actions against football officials including Mian Rizwan, Rana Shaukat and Asghar Khan.

“The Punjab Football Association (PFA) Normalisation Committee met on Thursday for the first time and took a number of important decisions,” a PFF news release said. “Mr Shaukat Ali Khan has been elected as the chairman of the PFA NC after three members of the committee met.

“Among other decisions, the Punjab FA NC has upheld the ban on former Punjab FA president Sardar Naveed Haider Khan imposed by the previous PFF setup and will take disciplinary action against other officials including Mian Rizwan, Rana Shaukat and Asghar Khan.

“It will also seek details of accounts from the former PFA officials.”

There was controversy earlier in the day regarding the PFA meeting when two of the five PFA NC officials posted their resignation letters on social media, saying that they had resigned due to the fact that a meeting was being conducted on the call of Shaukat and also at a time when the world has come to a standstill due to the coronavirus.

The PFF NC said that it had advised social distancing guidelines to be followed during the meeting while also saying that that the meeting was not called by Shaukat.

“The meeting was called by the PFF NC as Mr Shaukat Ali Khan forwarded a message, drafted by PFF, regarding the meeting to the Punjab FA NC WhatsApp group in which the PFF NC General Secretary is also included. Furthermore, the message was sent on Tuesday and no one raised an objection to it in the next 36 hours,” the PFF news release added.

“The PFF NC had advised that social distancing guidelines were to be followed during the Punjab FA NC meeting. It is the prerogative of any person to resign from any committee or position.”

The news release informed that the PFF Normalisation Committee also met on Thursday “via a video conference during which important matters pertaining to the revised roadmap for elections due to the covid-19 pandemic were discussed.”

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2020