FIFA to keep close watch over normalisation committee

FIFA to keep close watch over normalisation committee

KARACHI: A senior official of FIFA on Tuesday said that the world body would closely monitor the working of the normalisation committee appointed for Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).

“Yes, I will come regularly to Pakistan to make sure that we are on track. The committee will also submit its report on monthly basis with FIFA which will also carry minutes of its various meetings, the decisions and progress of its working,” Alexandre Gros, Senior MA Governance Services Manager Secretary General Division of FIFA, told a group of reporters during a discussion here on Tuesday.

He said he expected the committee to work with neutrality to help resolve the long-standing dispute of Pakistan’s football which has rocked the sport for the last few years.

This is the third visit of Gros to Pakistan and first to Karachi. He was part of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) delegations which visited Lahore for a couple of times recently to interview people from the two factions for composing the normalisation committee.

FIFA a few days ago named the normalisation committee, appointing Humza Khan, a former Karachi United captain, its chairman. The committee has been given nine months to conduct club scrutiny, hold elections at the district and provincial level before going for holding the PFF’s elections which would be held under the 2015 PFF Constitution.

The other members of the committee are Sikandar Khattak, Munir Ahmed Khan Sadhana, Syed Hasan Najib Shah and former Pakistan captain and former PFF Secretary General Col Mujahidullah Tareen.

The committee will hold its first meeting at Lahore on Wednesday (today). Gros will also meet the committee members. But he would not be part of the committee’s formal meeting. “I will not be part of its meeting tomorrow, though, I will meet its members,” Gros said.

Despite some objections being raised by a group regarding the neutrality of the committee chairman Humza, Gros said that he would act with neutrality. “We are confident that he (Humza) does not work for either party,” Gros said.

“Humza’s selection was made purely by FIFA as he was not nominated by any party. We knew his former affiliation with the Karachi United and Taha Ali Zai but we firmly believe that he would keep neutrality in his working,” Gros stressed.

“When both parties are not happy then it means that I am working in the right way. If one is happy and the other has gross reservations then it may create issues,” he said.

However, he was quick to add that any member of the committee could be removed if he was found breaching the code. Gros said FIFA knew the complexity of Pakistan’s matter and had to act eventually to save the country’s football from any further damage.

“Pakistan’s situation is very tricky,” Gros observed. “The country has a population of 220 million and it is very low in FIFA rankings and needs stability. If we did not act the vicious cycle would continue to damage the game,” said Gros, whose body language showed that FIFA is firm in its commitment to protect Pakistan’s football from further damage.

When asked about the relationship between the state and a federation, Gros said that it was important for both the state and the federation to have cordial relations. “If any such dispute arises between the state and FIFA’s affiliated association and cannot be resolved mutually then the state can contact FIFA. But if a state takes unilateral decision then it will be a violation of FIFA’s rules and that is why the world body is forced to suspend an association,” Gros clarified.

Gros also was hopeful that Ashfaq-led PFF would hand over the PFF headquarters and bank accounts to the normalisation committee within the stipulated time-frame. “I hope there will be a smooth handing over,” Gros said.

As per FIFA’s instructions Ashfaq-led body has to hand over the control of the PFF headquarters and accounts to the normalisation committee by September 20.

Gros said the committee itself would decide whether or not to retain the PFF secretary general Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi and other staff members who were working with Faisal Saleh Hayat.

Gros said that the committee would get operational funds from FIFA and the AFC which, besides helping it in fulfilling its basic mandate, would enable it to run day-to-day affairs of PFF and organise football activities. “But the committee will not get funds for any long-term project and such things will be handled by the new body after the PFF elections are held,” Gros said.

About Mujahidullah Tareen, Gros said: “His selection was quite easy.” Meanwhile, Humza said that he would work with absolute neutrality. “I would take decisions which would be best for the PFF and the country’s football,” he added. “I can prove to you to be a strong chairman,” he was quick to add.

The committee members will operate a joint account to be counter-signed by its chairman. Gros also said that the committee would also keep a working relationship with the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) for ensuring football’s participation in any national or international event.

It has created hope that football may become part of the 33rd National Games to be held in Peshawar from October 26 to November 1. And Pakistan football team’s chances have also become bright to feature in the 13th South Asian Games slated to be hosted by Nepal from December 1-10.

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