Pakistan football body might face another FIFA suspension

Football, which has been a victim of politicking and internal strife in Pakistan since 2015, is set to undergo fresh elections with the SC appointing a Returning Officer to conduct the electoral process.

FIFA want sitting PFF President, Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, to complete his tenure without any “third party” interference.   -  AP

The World Football Federation (FIFA) has warned that the sport’s governing body in Pakistan could face another ban if its elections are held on the directives of the country’s Supreme Court.

A FIFA spokesperson confirmed that the world governing body viewed the elections being held on the directives of the court as third-party interference in Pakistan Football Federation's (PFF) affairs , which is in contravention of the FIFA constitution for member countries.

Football, which has been a victim of politicking and internal strife in Pakistan since 2015, is set to undergo fresh elections with the SC appointing a Returning Officer to conduct the electoral process.

However, FIFA has said that sitting PFF President, Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, should be allowed to complete his tenure without any “third party” interference.

Now, the problem is that, the third party enforcing these elections is the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Hayat, who might have the backing of FIFA under its constitution, has lost considerable popularity and face, due to the sport’s stagnant condition in the country, in recent times.

His opponents say, he manipulated the PFF elections in 2015 to get himself re-elected as president, causing untold damage to Pakistan football.

The Pakistan football team only resumed to play at the top level in August this year, after a period of inaction since June 2015.

His selection and tenure is also not in line with the country’s National Sports Policy that limits the term for office-bearers.

The FIFA spokesperson in an email said, “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.”

In September last year, FIFA suspended Pakistan briefly. And later resumed the membership in March this year only, when a court verdict came in Hayat’s favour where the LHC administrator was asked to hand over the control to Hayat’s administration.

The FIFA mail further said, “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.”

Hayat has been PFF President for last 15 years and is being challenged this time by a strong candidate in the shape of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Football Association president and PFF congress member Zahir Shah, who was also a favourite to win in 2015.