LAHORE - The year 2015 proved fatal for Pakistan football , which was already struggling to mark its presence at FIFA level and trying to improve its international ranking. The year saw most action takes place not on the field, but on the courts due to political interference in the PFF elections which made the football activities static in the country.

The entire year saw a conflict between two rival groups – one backed by world’s football ruling body FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) while the other by the government – who remained busy in proving them the genuine one – but the ultimate sufferers and losers were players who were deprived of taking part in many local and international events.

KALEEM ULLAH KEEPS ON SPARKLING AT INT’L LEVEL: The year 2015 proved a fantastic year for Chaman-based Pakistani footballer Kaleemullah who became first Pakistani to sign four-month contract with US-based football club Sacramento Republic FC. He was already part of international football leagues where he was performing exceptionally and this signing added more feathers in his already decorated cap. After signing the contract with US-based football club, Kaleem said: “To be able to live your dream is the biggest opportunity you can ask for. It’s something I am proud of, but I know that I have to improve my game.”

Pakistan Captain URGES STAKEHOLDERS TO RESOLVE PFF ISSUE: About football disaster in Pakistan due to political interference in the PFF affairs, Kaleem also urged the departments and the clubs of the country to force the warring factions of the PFF to negotiate and resolve the conflict before it ruins the game in the country. “I am surprised by the silence of the departments and the clubs. They should come forward and protect the sport by pressing the conflicting factions to end the dispute for the sake of the game. It is about the bread and butter of the players. The stakeholders should highlight the issue through media,” Kaleem said.

NO MAJOR WOMEN FOOTBALL ACTIVITY IN 2015: Women footballers, who got opportunity to exhibit their prowess in some national and international events including SAFF Women Championship in Islamabad, saw no major activity even at the national level in year 2015. The only good thing in women football was representation of Pakistan women football team captain Hajra Khan in the Maldives Football League where she performed exceptionally and earned the honour of scoring his 100th goal. Shahlyla Baloch was another Pakistani women player who accompanied Hajra in the Maldives football league.

INT’L EVENTS PAKISTAN HAD TO MISS::  Pakistan football team couldn’t participate in four major regional events which include the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship, where the national team was placed in Group A with hosts India and the other ones were Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-16 and U-19 Championship qualifiers and the SAFF U-16 Championship.

NO PPFL THIS YEAR: The conflict also damaged the domestic circuit and deprived local clubs and players of featuring in the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) and the Division B league. The action was witnessed only in the earlier part of the year and soon after the commencement of election period, the football activities were stopped.

A COMPLETE VIEW OF PFF ELECTIONS:

Faisal Saleh Hayat, who is attached with the Pakistan Football Federation since long, couldn’t produce such sterling results, which were expected from a political personality who has vast experience of the running and managing the game and also has cordial relations with FIFA and AFC. It was felt that instead of uplifting Pakistan football , his first and foremost ambition was to stay in the office even after spending a good 12 years as PFF president.

The conflict of the PFF started with Punjab Football Association (PFA) elections in April which saw Sardar Naveed Haider taking it over as President. But the elections were made controversial PFF Director Projects Col (R) Farasat Ali Shah and company. During the PFA elections, Arshad Lodhi and group which was being supported by the Punjab government, also raided the FIFA Football House twice and took over the offices in July.

After this, Col (R) Farasat came to front as key person supporting the Arshad Lodhi group and also joined Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Football Association (KPFA) president Zahir Ali Shah with the aim of brining in Arshad Lodhi as interim PFF president. They also leveled a lot of allegations against Faisal Saleh Hayat of embezzling funds received from FIFA and the AFC.

Arshad Lodhi group involved the Lahore High Court (LHC) in the fiasco, which according to FIFA and AFC statutes is not allowed and those bring their issues to court are banned by the parent football body and same are the rules for the IOC and its members associations. The LHC issued notices to both the factions to withhold elections.

Before receiving the LHC’s orders, Faisal group had held their elections in Changla Gali which duly elected Faisal Saleh Hayat as PFF President for the third term, while the elections were also recognized and approved by FIFA and AFC later. The LHC termed the PFF elections held at Changla Gali as null and void in July and not only froze the accounts of the federation but also issues a contempt of court notice to Faisal and his secretary Col (R) Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi. The court also appointed an administrator Asad Munir to run the affairs of the federation and hold new elections.

Seeing the entire situation of Pakistan football and responding to letters by Arshad Lodhi, FIFA sent its three-member mission to Lahore to observe and monitor the factual position. After their visit, they had detailed meetings with both the parties and listened to them carefully. They compiled a complete report and presented to the AFC and FIFA. In September, FIFA executive committee took their final decision and announced that Faisal Saleh Hayat would stay for two more years as PFF president if he implemented the FIFA statuettes, updated them and improved the local governing body’s transparency. A progress report would also need to be made available to FIFA.

PFF ISSUE SIMILAR TO POA AND TO BE RESOLVED LIKEWISE: Recently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has clarified to all its members associations and their governments that they only recognize those associations which are backed and approved by their international parent bodies and political interference of any third party is strictly prohibited and in case, such happens, the IOC or the parent body can ban the member association.

Recently, a parallel Pakistan Olympic Association was established by a rival group and backed by the government. This conflict kept on damaging Pakistan sports and deprived Pakistani players of representing their country at international level for long time. But soon after the meeting of government officials with IOC authorities, the former were clarified about the entire situation and rules and regulations of the IOC. On their return, the government officials presented their report at higher level and the high authorities immediately ordered to support backing illegal POA and recognize IOC-backed POA led by Lt Gen (R) Arif Hasan. And recently, the occupied Olympic House was also handed over to Gen Arif-led POA. The matter was settled well with the interference of government and Pakistani players are now glad that they are ready to excel in international events.

Same is the case with Pakistan Football Federation, as the elections held by PFF president Syed Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat at Changla Gali were duly approved by AFC and FIFA who later also issued statements to Faisal for congratulating him and extending their all-out support for him in ruling the body. But now the other faction is claiming itself a genuine body and want to rule the Pakistan football . But they are unable to send any Pakistani team to abroad for its participation in any international event because the FIFA and AFC has given this right to only Faisal-led PFF. Now the timely intervention of government is dire need of the house as they should come forward to resolve this issue by recognizing FIFA and AFC-approved football body and also hand over Football House to them.

THE EVENTS PAKISTAN

COULD NOT PARTICIPATE

International Events

SAFF Under-16

AFC Under-16

SAFF Under-19

AFC Under-19

SAFF Cup

Local Events

Pakistan Premier League

B-Division League

Women League

Under-19

FIFA Referee Course

Coaching Courses Women & Men

RESULTS

Pakistan 2-1 Afghanistan

Yemen 3-1 Pakistan

Yemen 0-0 Pakistan

AFC CUP QUALIFIERS

K-Electric 3-3 Druk United