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Fifa threatens to ban PFF if SC-ordered elections held

KARACHI (Monitoring Desk): Fifa has threatened to suspend the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) if the Supreme Court (SC) orders of fresh elections are carried out.

The SC ordered fresh elections for PFF last month with a Returning Officer to be in charge of the process. While the elections will take place according to the order, Fifa is adamant that Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat should be allowed to complete its tenure without any “third party” interference.

However the matter is getting murkier, as, in this case, the third party is the country’s Apex Court. On the other hand, besides inconsistencies with development work and half-complete goal projects, Hayat does not have a great legacy as the PFF president, clearly manipulating and tailoring the election process in 2015.

He is also not in line with the country’s National Sports Policy that limits the term for office-bearers. The FIFA spokesperson wrote to the media on Tuesday night, “We can confirm that FIFA has today sent a letter to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) stating that the Order issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on November 14, 2018 seems to be incompatible with the decision taken by the FIFA Member Associations Committee on September 26, 2018.”

Fifa had also given a two-year extension to Hayat despite the controversial 2015 elections in Changla Gali that took place in June that year. The extension was given to Hayat to mend PFF statutes, according to Fifa, however Hayat chose to hold football hostage for three years.

He did not make any efforts to mend the statutes or call any PFF congress, or resolving the matters with the Lahore High Court-appointed administrator during the time. Pakistan’s national teams suffered the most as they did not play any international matches till August this year.

Similarly, with the 2015 extension’s end in September last year Fifa suspended Pakistan briefly and later resumed the membership in March when a court verdict came in Hayat’s favour where the LHC administrator was asked to hand over the control to Hayat’s administration.

All the while, however, the footballers suffered without any perspectives to represent the country. The Fifa statement on Tuesday further added, “Fifa has reminded the PFF about the FIFA Statutes (particularly article 14 par. 1 let I and article 19 par 1) according to which member associations are obliged to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence from third parties. Therefore should elections at the PFF take place on a date that is imposed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, this would be considered undue influence in the sense of the FIFA Statutes. Consequently the matter would then be presented to the relevant FIFA bodies for consideration and possible action, which may include the suspension of the PFF.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Returning Officer had been changed from Shoaib Shaheen to its Director General Human Rights Amir Saleem Rana. The election nomination process is ongoing and according to reports Rana has asked the PFF Secretary to put out all the election updates on the official PFF website.

Hayat’s 15-year throne is also threatened by a stronger candidate in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Football Association president and PFF congress member Zahir Shah, who was also a favourite to win in 2015, had the PFF elections were conducted fairly and were not tailored for Hayat. In the current climate, Hayat’s strong ally Sardar Naveed Haider Khan has also turned against him and began supporting the ruling party’s MNA Malik Amir from Multan.

However, both Khan and Dogar are not eligible to contest the PFF’s presidential elections due to the criteria in PFF constitution.

Khan had gone bitter with Hayat’s team as he felt disrespected during one of the reception dinners for the Pakistan U15 squad that played in the South Asian Football Federation Championship earlier this year.

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