KARACHI: The chairman of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)’s Normalisation Commi­ttee has resigned, leaving the sport’s global body FIFA with a big decision to make at a crucial juncture.

FIFA said it had been informed about Humza Khan’s decision to resign as the chief of the Normalisation Committee which has to hold fresh elections of the PFF in the coming months.

“FIFA has been informed by Humza Khan of his decision to resign from the position of chairman of the PFF normalisation committee,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn last week. “Further details will be provided in due course as FIFA and the AFC [Asian Football Confederation] remain committed to promoting the development of football in Pakistan.”

Neither Humza nor the PFF responded to a request for comments by Dawn regarding the development.

The resignation, however, comes at a time when the mandate of the Normalisation Commi­ttee is due to expire and there is no indication yet as to whether it would be given an extension.

At several times since the appointment of the Normalisation Committee in September last year, FIFA has seemingly been flustered by the situation of the game in Pakistan.

The deep divisions and widespread intrigue have seen the Normalisation Committee being attacked from every angle and officials going to local courts against almost every decision taken by the Humza-led body.

There have been problems from within the Normalisation Committee as well, the latest being the termination of Manizeh Zainli as the general secretary last month following a legal battle.

With so many forces at play, sources told Dawn that lately FIFA officials had considered suspending the PFF but remained in two minds regarding that decision since the elections — and an end to years of crisis — were so near.

Last month, the Normalisation Committee announced election commissioners for all provinces whilst announcing the electoral committee.

That announcement saw calls that the Normalisation Commi­ttee had appeased one of the contesting groups led by Malik Amir Dogar and Ashfaq Hussain Shah.

The same group had accused the Normalisation Committee of favouring the group led by Zahir Ali Shah when the Provincial Normalisation Committees had been named earlier this year.

It seemed like a balancing act but the composition of the Provincial Normalisation Committees was also changed last week after they had announced election commissioners for the district elections.

There is a strong case against the appointment of Chaudhry Mohammad Saleem as the PFF election commissioner since he is the president of Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam Football Club and was part of countrywide protests against the Normalisation Committee.

At the time of appointment of the Normalisation Committee, the Dogar-Ashfaq group and the Zahir faction were allies, having won an election held by the Supreme Court against long-time PFF president Faisal Saleh Hayat.

Despite the Hayat group being out of the picture at this point and the balance of the elections seemingly tilted in the favour of the Dogar-Ashfaq group, the situation could change depending on the person who comes in as Humza’s replacement.

Rumours were rife in the country’s footballing circles that the AFC was going to talk about the situation of the PFF during its Congress meeting last week but any such thing wasn’t part of the agenda.

“Nothing mentioned on the PFF,” an AFC spokesperson told Dawn following the Congress.

However, Dawn has learnt on authority that the AFC and FIFA did touch base regarding the PFF situation on a call on Thursday, a day after the Congress meeting.

The AFC spokesperson, though, did not confirm that a call had taken place, saying: “All matters about this are the domain of FIFA. The Normalisation Committee is a FIFA matter.”

Humza resigned at the start of December and has to serve a month-long notice period, meaning he will end his 13-month stint when the mandate of the Normalisation Committee is due to expire.

The coming weeks and the decisions taken during that time by FIFA will be crucial in deciding the future of football in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2020

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