Another decision goes in favour of PFF NC, end to football crisis expected

Published January 8, 2022
Headquarters of the Pakistan Football Federation in Lahore. — Photo courtesy PFF Facebook
Headquarters of the Pakistan Football Federation in Lahore. — Photo courtesy PFF Facebook

KARACHI: Things are going the way of the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee, further raising hopes that the FIFA suspension on Pakistan will soon be lifted and the country’s football would emerge from another of its darkest chapters.

The accounts of the country’s football governing body had been frozen since the court-elected PFF of Ashfaq Hussain Shah seized control of the PFF headquarters in Lahore from the FIFA-appointed NC in March, prompting a suspension from global football body FIFA.

On Friday, a writ petition filed by Ashfaq against the decision of the trial court to freeze the accounts until a final decision about the legitimate PFF in the court of additional district judge was dismissed.

It was a victory of sorts for NC member Shahid Khokar who had moved the trial court soon after the takeover of the PFF headquarters. And, in effect, a victory for the NC which is seemingly heading back to its office.

A few days ago, NC chairman Haroon Malik posted a video on Twitter while passing the PFF headquarters with the caption “Almost there …”.

It is, indeed, almost there after productive meetings with the government which has sided with the NC in its dispute against Ashfaq’s PFF, which came into power after an election held by the Supreme Court in December 2018 which was not recognised by FIFA.

To sort out the half-decade long dispute over the control of the PFF, FIFA appointed the NC in September 2019 and it was in office until Ashfaq and his officials took over the PFF headquarters citing the NC was not keen on holding the PFF elections.

They were forced to vacate the PFF headquarters by the Punjab government which said that the PFF had violated the terms of agreement for its lease.

“The matter regarding the PFF headquarters is still sub judice and I don’t see it being handed to the NC until the legal formalities are completed,” Ashfaq told Dawn on Friday, vowing to contest the decision on the accounts at a higher court.

Ashfaq’s PFF has lost crucial support in the last few months. The government and the Pakistan Sports Board held several rounds of talks with the NC and Ashfaq’s group of officials before eventually deciding to back the former with Prime Minister Imran Khan also keen on resolving the football crisis.

The NC has given the government an eight-month roadmap to hold elections and its mandate, which was due to expire at the end of last year, has been extended till the end of June by FIFA although that decision hasn’t been publicly announced by the global football body.

The government backing played a major role in that extension, Dawn has reliably learnt with the Bureau of the FIFA Council making the decision to extend the mandate after much deliberation.

There was concern among the members of the seven-strong Bureau of the FIFA Council that things in Pakistan had been dragging on with no end in sight.

There were also talks to change the composition of the NC before it was decided that it will continue in its same form.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2022

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