KARACHI: Alexandre Gros’ change of position in FIFA has had the rumour mill churning in Pakistan.

Conspiracy theories have started emerging with some football officials claiming that their interference has resulted in the sacking of Gros, the man behind the appointment of the Normalisation Committee to handle the affairs of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).

There a further claims that Gros’ removal will see the composition of the Humza Khan-led Normalisation Committee change. Most of those claims are coming from former PFF officials who have been against the appointment of the Normalisation Committee. The appointment triggered vociferous protests with effigies of Gros and Humza being burnt at the time.

However, Dawn can exclusively reveal that there has been no sacking and instead Gros, formerly the senior member associations’ governance services manager at FIFA, has been promoted to a senior position in the FIFA Foundation even though the global football body gave a standard reply to the query regarding the rumours.

“As per standard practice, FIFA’s Member Associations division is in charge of handling all member associations’ matters, including those corresponding to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF),” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn on Wednesday night.

Dawn understands that FIFA do not publicly comment on the promotion or movement of their employees between its departments.

PFF Normalisation Committee chairman Humza, however, confirmed to Dawn that Gros had indeed “moved to a better role in FIFA”.

The Normalisation Committee was appointed in September last year following years of crisis and controversy after the PFF broke into two warring factions seeking control of the country’s football governing body. It has a mandate till the end of this year by which it has to hold fresh elections of the PFF.

“Pakistan was very tricky,” Gros had told selected media, including Dawn, at the time of the appointment of the Normalisation Committee. “It was very complicated. There were deep divisions in Pakistan football. And if we didn’t act now, this vicious cycle would’ve continued. FIFA is trying to do its best for Pakistan football. We want the sport to grow in Pakistan.”

The response to the appointment from the officials of the faction which was removed from office following the appointment of the Normalisation Committee was disgraceful and FIFA certainly wasn’t pleased.

These are officials who posses very little knowledge about modern football, how the game works globally and FIFA realises that it’s because of them that the game is languishing in Pakistan.

The latest rumours regarding Gros are understood to have irked FIFA as well.

“Alexandre Gros has been removed from his position because of his inaction to the partiality displayed by the Normalisation Committee towards one of the groups,” messages being circulated on WhatsApp and social media platforms claimed. “In his place Laura Dijak has been appointed. There is a high chance that the Normalisation Committee will be changed as well.”

The only truth in those messages is that Dijak has now taken Gros’ place.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2020

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