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KARACHI, Jan 13: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has issued a directive to the Lyari Development Authority (LDA) to allot the land reserved for FIFA Goal Project II to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) instead of the Sindh Football Authority (SFA).

Dawn was informed about this latest development by Sindh Minister for Katchi Abadis and SFA’s patron-in-chief Rafique Engineer on Tuesday afternoon.

“I met the chief minister today. He had already been briefed by the Federal Minister for Sports Pir Aftab Shah Jillani that in order to build the Goal Project in Karachi, FIFA needed the land subleased or directly allotted to the PFF since the federation and not the SFA was affiliated with them,” said Rafique Engineer.

“The Chief Minister had been requested by the Federal Minister for Sports to kindly take immediate action regarding the matter. He issued orders to the Chief Secretary Sindh Fazal Rehman who forwarded the request to the Additional Chief Secretary Ghulam Ali Pasha. And that is how we now have the CM’s orders with all the necessary seals and signatures in our possession. This letter will be presented to the LDA first thing on Wednesday morning,” explained the minister.

“I hope with this we have now fulfilled PFF and FIFA’s requirements,” he said.

Meanwhile, SFA’s Treasurer and Secretary-General District Football Association West (Zone V) Rahim Bakhsh Baloch told Dawn that the Federal Sports Minister had met with three MNAs from Karachi on Monday.

“MNA Malir Shah Mohammad Baloch, MNA Keemari Qadir Patel, MNA Lyari South Nabeel Gabol, who also happens to be the federal minister for ports and shipping, had met with Mr Jillani during the assembly session in Islamabad on Monday.

“The sports minister then rang up the PFF President Faisal Saleh Hayat to confirm FIFA’s requirement. After that he also called up Qaim Ali Shah followed by a call to Rafiq Engineer, who was directed to meet the CM at his office on Tuesday in order to get the allotment directive for LDA,” explained Rahim Bakhsh.

“I will be taking the CM’s order to Director-General Lyari Development Authority Agha Masood tomorrow morning and it doesn’t look like they’ll have any problems replacing SFA with PFF in the allotment order. In the meanwhile I have also faxed the Sindh Government directive to the PFF head office in Lahore,” he said.

When Dawn contacted PFF Secretary-General Col (retired) Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi to find out if the FIFA Goal Project II will now stay in Karachi after the 10-acre land reserved for the project in Hawkesbay’s scheme 42 was allotted to the PFF, he said that he definitely hoped so.

“We haven’t yet received the LDA allotment order but yes, the SFA officials have sent us a copy of the CM’s order to the development authority. Hopefully the allotment order will follow.

“But I must point out here” he added, “that they missed so many FIFA deadlines, the last one on Jan 5, in the process. It would have saved so much time and effort had all this been done earlier instead of wasting time on holding ridiculous demonstrations. Now the PFF chief would have to make an extra effort to convince FIFA to give SFA another chance to let Karachi keep the project,” he concluded.