The international football governing body, FIFA on Wednesday suspended Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) due to third-party interference. The ban is to be implemented with immediate effect. The FIFA council released a statement on its official website to confirm the same.
The statement said: “The situation was prompted by the recent hostile takeover of the PFF headquarters in Lahore by a group of protestors and an alleged decision by certain individuals to remove the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee of the PFF led by Haroon Malik and to hand over the leadership of the PFF to Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah.”
Until the suspension is lifted, Pakistan’s national and club teams would not be eligible to take part in FIFA international football competitions. Moreover, PFF will not get any fund from FIFA, leaving the sport in the country in a financial mess.
Pakistan football in disarray
Pakistan football is staring at a long-term ban from the Bureau of the FIFA Council after a forced take over of the national federation headquarters in Lahore by a group that won the last elections but annulled by the world governing body of the sport.
On March 30, FIFA had issued a letter to PFF warning it of suspension, should the illegitimate occupation of the PFF headquarters not be lifted and handed over back to the FIFA Normalization Committee headed by Haroon Malik to carry out their mandate.
A member of the normalization committee had said then: “If the government’s sports minister does not intervene and resolve this issue Pakistan football could be banned for a very long time from all international competitions.”
He also warned that if FIFA imposes a ban, the PFF will not get any fund from the world body, leaving the sport in the country in a financial mess and development projects on hold.
Pakistan Football has been in a mess for the last three years after government officials started interfering in the affairs of the national federation.
The country’s football federation had earlier been suspended for six months by FIFA from October 2017 to March 2018 after the latter objected to a court decision to appoint an outside administrator to run the PFF after another dispute over a contested election. FIFA opposed governments or courts getting involved in football disputes.
After this long-drawn-out dispute between opposing groups in the PFF and a number of court cases, FIFA appointed a Normalization Committee to hold elections to decide as to who would run PFF.
Interestingly, politics crept in even in the Normalization Committee and FIFA once again announced to hold fresh elections by June 2021.
However, last Saturday, things went out of control as a PFF group, led by Ashfaq Hussain, broke in and forcibly took over the Football House in Lahore. According to sources, they also manhandled and harassed the staff, kept them under forcible confinement and took personal belongings and items by force.
This recent “hostile takeover” prompted FIFA to impose a ban on the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) with immediate effect.
This suspension will only be lifted once FIFA has received confirmation from the normalization committee of the PFF that the PFF’s premises, accounts, administration and communication channels are again under its full control and it can continue to carry out its mandate without further hindrance,” FIFA said.
Besides, FIFA has also suspended Chad after the African country’s government tried to dissolve the national football federation and appoint new officials to run the sport. FIFA said it will lift the suspension if the government repeals those decisions and hands back power to the president of the soccer federation.