KARACHI: The Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee is understood to have had no clue about a meeting between Federal Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination Ehsan Mazari and Asia’s football chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa in Bahrain on Wednesday.

Mazari has been calling on the FIFA-appointed NC to hold elections of the PFF at the earliest but the Haroon Malik-led commitee has stated that there are some hurdles in the constitution that need to be ironed out before the polls could be held.

To sort out the way ahead, a joint-delegation of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation was due to arrive to Pakistan this week.

However, an source in Asia’s football governing body told Dawn that the visit had been postponed “due to current political unrest in Pakistan”, in wake of the attack on former prime minister Imran Khan.

Yet in that very week, a meeting between Mazari and the AFC president was held. Mazari tweeted that he had a “great meeting”, adding a picture of him standing alongside Shiekh Salman.

The AFC did not immediately respond to a query by Dawn about what was discussed during the meeting but a source in the PFF NC confirmed to Dawn that it was not in the loop for Mazari’s visit to Bahrain.

The state-run Associated Press of Pakistan news agency quoted Mazari as saying that he had asked Sheikh Salman to play his role in holding the PFF elections on an urgent basis as the NC had failed in that regard.

“The future of football in Pakistan is on the brink, as the PFF NC has failed to hold elections despite course of several months,” he was reported as saying.

Football in Pakistan has suffered for the best part of the last decade due to crisis and controversy in the PFF. FIFA appointed the NC in September 2019 to bring the game back on track but Pakistan was banned by the global football body for 15 months until the suspension was lifted in July after the NC regained control of the PFF headquarters.

In order to get the NC restored, both FIFA and AFC officials held talks with the government. The meeting in Bahrain shows they are continuing to do that in order to move forward but whether the NC will be pressed to hold elections sooner remains to be seen.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2022

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