FIFA suspends PFF with immediate effect over 'third-party interference'

Published April 7, 2021
FIFA on Wednesday suspended the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) with immediate effect due to third-party interference. — Reuters/File
FIFA on Wednesday suspended the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) with immediate effect due to third-party interference. — Reuters/File

FIFA on Wednesday suspended the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) with immediate effect due to third-party interference.

In a statement, the global body said that third-party inference was a serious violation of the FIFA statutes.

"This situation was prompted by the recent hostile takeover of the PFF headquarters in Lahore by a group of protestors and an alleged decision by certain individuals to remove the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee of the PFF led by Haroon Malik and to hand over the leadership of the PFF to Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah," the statement added.

The suspension will only be lifted once FIFA has received conformation from the normalisation committee stating that its premises, accounts, administration and communication channels are again under its full control and it can continue to carry out its mandate without further hindrance.

Earlier, FIFA had issued a warning to the federation over the "illegitimate occupation of the PFF headquarters as well as the decision to take over the leadership from the normalisation committee" appointed by the global body.

"FIFA issued a letter warning that, should the illegitimate occupation of the PFF headquarters not be lifted and the office bearers recognised by the global body not be permitted free access to the building to carry out their mandate, the matter would be immediately submitted to the Bureau of the Council for decision," the statement issued on Wednesday said.

As the situation remains unchanged, the Bureau of the Council has decided to suspend the PFF, it said.

FIFA had appointed the PFF normalisation committee in September 2019, almost four years after a controversial election of the PFF had thrown Pakistan football into turmoil.

During that time, Pakistan was also suspended for a six-month period from October 2017 to March 2018 for a court-appointed administrator taking over the PFF headquarters from then president Faisal Saleh Hayat.

Upon its appointment, the PFF normalisation committee was chaired by Humza Khan who resigned in December last year with Munir Sadhana being appointed acting chairman. Haroon Malik was named as the chairman in January this year as FIFA changed all members of the committee it initially appointed.

During his time in charge, Sadhana had undone all the decisions taken by Humza, meaning Haroon and his committee had to start from scratch. Having been handed mandate till June 30 this year, Haroon announced earlier this month that he will give an election roadmap by April.

It was what seemingly prompted the Ashfaq group — a group of officials led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah — to take back administrative charge of the PFF headquarters, sensing that an election would not be held by the mandate given by FIFA.

On March 27, Shah, who became president in a Supreme Court election which wasn’t recognised by FIFA, had led a delegation of officials to the PFF headquarters demanding that the PFF normalisation committee hand back control of the headquarters.

Haroon had said he felt so threatened and intimidated he had to break through a glass panel to escape the PFF headquarters. However, Ashfaq had claimed that the glass was broken by Haroon as a reaction after he handed over charge.

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