KARACHI: FIFA has warned the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee that sanctions would be imposed if it is unable to hold elections of the country’s football governing body by the end of its latest extension until March next year.

Dawn was first to report last month that the mandate of the Haroon Malik-led PFF NC had been extended until March 15, 2024 but that the FIFA-appointed panel was bound to hold elections of the PFF, which has been mired in crisis and controversy since 2015, by its end.

The letter sent to PFF NC chief Haroon on June 23 by FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura announcing the extension, a copy of which is available with Dawn, states that the FIFA’s all-powerful Council will continue to monitor the progress made towards holding the elections.

“In particular, the FIFA administration shall carry out a review of the status of the electoral process by 31 October 2023 at the latest, and, should the progress be deemed insufficient in that regard, the matter shall be referred to the relevant body for further consideration and possible decision,” says the letter with the FIFA Council having decided on giving another extension to the PFF NC, which has been in place since September 2019.

Haroon was made chairman in January 2021 following the resignation of his predecessor Humza Khan, while the composition of the NC was also changed. But its early tenure hit a roadblock when an illegal takeover of the PFF headquarters saw Pakistan slapped with a suspension which was only lifted in June last year once the NC was reinstated.

The PFF NC was given an extension until June this year, with FIFA noting that the Haroon Malik-led body had to do a lot of restoration work, and now has eight months to complete the process of holding elections.

“… the Council confirmed that in the event that the PFF elections have not taken place by 15 March 2024, the matter will once again be brought to its attention for consideration and the possible imposition of sanctions on the PFF, in accordance with the FIFA Statutes,” the letter sent by FIFA to Haroon concludes.

Back home, relations between the PFF NC and the government are at its lowest ebb with the Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Ehsanur Rehman Mazari stating that Haroon had reneged on his promise to hold the elections of the PFF as soon as possible.

HIGH-LEVEL MEETING

The government wrote a letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino through IPC’s joint secretary sports Asmatullah Khan demanding changes in the NC.

Dawn reported on Tuesday that FIFA had decided to stick with the same composition of the NC and that a reply had been sent to the government.

In the reply, a copy of which is available with Dawn, both FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation have sought talks with the government in September with FIFA’s chief member associations officer Kenny Jean Marie and AFC’s deputy secretary general Vahid Kardany stating that it was imperative with the PFF executive committee, which comes in place after elections are held, makes the necessary changes to the PFF Constitution.

A major reason for the crisis that has engulfed the PFF for the better part of the last decade has been due to some changes made in the PFF Constitution, which were not ratified by FIFA.

“Once a new PFF Executive Committee is in place, and as underlined by FIFA in past correspondence, we believe that the PFF Constitution should be amended with the assistance of FIFA and the AFC without further ado, so that the appropriate good governance principles and best practices can be adopted by PFF and its members,” they said in the letter.

“This will guarantee that governance issues that PFF unfortunately had to face in the recent past do not occur again. FIFA and the AFC are fully committed to ensuring that PFF is best equipped going forward so that football can strive and grow again in Pakistan.

“Finally, we would like to offer to meet with the relevant government authorities of Pakistan to discuss in more detail the current situation of PFF and the future of football in Pakistan post- normalisation committee.

“To this end, we would suggest to organise a high-level meeting between FIFA, the AFC, the PFF Normalisation Committee and the relevant government officials in Dubai (UAE) between 11 to 13 September 2023.”

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2023

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