On the right track

Published April 4, 2024

AT last, amid murmurs of dissent over new rules and allegations of manoeuvring, the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee has taken a significant stride towards completing the task it was assigned to do nearly four and half years ago. The composition of the FIFA-appointed PFF NC has been changed and Pakistan was banned during that time but in announcing the results of elections in 75 districts, it has shown much-needed signs of progress. The Haroon Malik-led NC was under fire for the delay in holding fresh elections at the crisis-stricken PFF. Last month, it was given another extension by the global football body FIFA until December 2024 to complete its mandate. The first step towards holding elections — club registration and scrutiny — took a long time and then the NC drew the ire of Pakistan’s football fraternity by giving newly registered clubs the right to vote, when the PFF constitution allows this right two years after initial registration. Stakeholders claimed the move was aimed at impacting the vote bank. There were also issues with the voting process being carried out on WhatsApp. Fortunately, the initial results of the first 75 districts were not met with much resentment. The committee must now hold elections in the rest of the districts across the country; it says the process will resume after Eid.

There is hope that matters are on track and that eventually an elected PFF will emerge. The status will allow the PFF to access a greater tranche of funding through FIFA’s Forward Programme to develop the game in the country. The response of fans during Pakistan’s recent 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers showed the national appetite for the sport. An elected set-up can build on that. But for now, the reins are in the NC’s hands. District-level elections will be followed by provincial-level elections. Then elections for PFF president will be held. It is a long road but at least the journey has begun.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2024

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