The fight for control of Pakistani football takes a different turn after the attack on the PFF headquarters and accountability by those responsible.
Karachi, Pakistan – Pakistani soccer headquarters come under attack, chairman of the FIFA-appointed Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) normalization commission (NC), saying he was forced to hand over the accounts and check books to the ‘organization.
PFF CN chairman Haroon Malik said Saturday’s attack was led by former PFF chairman Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah, who was accompanied by other officials.
“I was working in the office when a crowd, organized by Shah, stormed into my office and asked me to hand over the load to the PFF and all the bank accounts,” Malik told Al Jazeera on Sunday.
“They held me back and locked the doors, screaming and telling me to hand them the PFF. They were furious that they did not hold the elections. I told them that I will provide a road map and that we should discuss it in a civilized manner.
A spokesperson for the PFF added that “staff have been physically harassed and held hostage.”
Shah was appointed president of the PFF after a 2018 election held on instructions from the country’s Supreme Court.
FIFA, the world’s football governing body, and the Asian Football Confederation refused to recognize him as president-elect, saying the court’s ruling was a “third party interference” in the management of the case. national football.
In 2019, FIFA installed the CN – initially chaired by Humza Khan – to strengthen the structure of football in Pakistan, with the aim of achieving a functional administration by holding transparent elections.
After Khan’s resignation in December 2020, FIFA appointed Malik as chair of the body.
Tensions have been brewing in recent months between the group led by Shah and the NC over what they consider to be a delay in the holding of the elections.
In 2015, Pakistan was banned by FIFA due to third-party interference and football circles fear Saturday’s events could lead to a further suspension.
Malik said he suspected the officials who took part in the “attack” to be banned and that “FIFA will likely declare them as” persona non-grata “.
“FIFA takes these issues firmly and will likely ban Pakistan, which means we won’t have functional football for five years. It will only kill football in the country, ”added Malik.
The incident also forced the cancellation of the ongoing women’s football championship which kicked off earlier this month in the southern coastal city of Karachi.
With 19 teams made up of young footballers coming from across the country to take part in the event, the cancellation left participants shocked and disappointed.
“It’s a dark day for all the football players in the country. Football in Pakistan is suffering again because of politics, ”said Taha Ali, coach of Karachi United Football Club. “The real stakeholders in this game are the players and the coaches, but we feel helpless in this situation.”
If only we can finish this rn tournament and not let all of our hard work, effort and sacrifice go in vain. Months of training; quit 2 jobs just before the tournament so I could stay here for a month. And nw this. DISAPPOINTED! @ daniutus25 @PakistanFF @ JAfridi10 @FootballPak https://t.co/VCoLl2FXb6
– Abiha Haider (@ AbihaHaider05) March 27, 2021
Club captain Nina Ali said footballers crave the exposure offered by national and international tournaments and that a possible suspension would mean years of exposure on the national and international circuit were wasted.
“We just want to play and not waste our time in politics,” Ali said. “I started playing 10 years ago. My youth is gone. For the first time, I witnessed a revival taking place through this championship, especially for women. If we are banned again, young women who are in the developmental stage will suffer the consequences for years to come. “
Sarah Ali, a 28-year-old participant, said the takeover of the PFF’s accounts and office looked like a sports coup.
“Football, as before, will be banned in Pakistan. We had already been banned by the same administration in 2017 which took over by force last night, ”Ali told Al Jazeera.