LAHORE - After several warnings, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) ultimately suspended Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) membership on Wednesday on account of undue third-party interference in the federation’s affairs.

In its letter issued on October 10 and received by the PFF on Wednesday (October 11), the world football ruling body said: “The Bureau took this decision as a result of the fact that the PFF offices and its accounts remain in control of a court-appointed administrator, which constitutes a violation of the PFF obligations to manage its affairs independently and without influence from any third parties in accordance with the FIFA Statutes.”

FIFA has also clarified in its letter that Pakistan Football Federation will be reinstated when undue third-party interference comes to an end and the federation is handed over to its recognised body that was being led by Faisal Saleh Hayat. “The suspension will be lifted once the PFF offices and access to the PFF accounts are returned to the PFF.”

FIFA has also clarified that following the PFF’s suspension, Pakistan has lost all its membership rights as defined in article 13 of the FIFA statutes. “The PFF's national and affiliated club teams are no longer entitled to take part in international competitions until the suspension is lifted,” the letter reads.

“This also means that neither the PFF nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any development programmes, courses or training from FIFA or the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Moreover, and in accordance with article 16 para 3 of the FIFA statutes, other member associations may not entertain sporting contact with the PFF during its suspension,” the letter further reads.

Talking to The Nation, PFF president Faisal Saleh Hayat termed the ban on Pakistan football as very sad incident saying it will put bad effects on Pakistan sports general and Pakistan football particularly. “All our efforts to uplift Pakistan football went in vain after this ban, which was imposed just because of sheer negligence of government as it didn’t bother to discourage and stop the occupiers and grabbers from undue interference in PFF affairs which led to FIFA ban on Pakistan, which is very unfortunate.”

Faisal said the downfall of Pakistan football began with forceful occupation of Pakistan Football Federation headquarters by a mob of around 200 persons, carrying latest weapons on June 20, 2015 on behest of ruling Sharif family. The intention of Maryam Nawaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz was to install Caption (r) Safdar as president of Pakistan Football Federation which then could not happen due to strict statutory provisions of FIFA and PFF statutes.

He said through illegal means, with extensive use of state machinery and street power, under the umbrella of Maryam, Hamza and the then Sports Board Punjab Director General Usman Anwer evicted the PFF staff from their offices brutally and occupied the PFF headquarters. On 30 June, Faisal Saleh Hayat won the scheduled PFF election as president for the term 2015-2019.

Faisal said Maryam and Hamza-supported group went in the court against the PFF election held on June 30, 2017. Consequently, Lahore High Court (LHC) declared the elections of PFF, attended by FIFA/AFC representative, null and void and appointed Justice (r) Asad Munir as PFF administrator against a substantial salary of Rs 500,000. “Interestingly, the salary of the administrator is being drawn from the PFF account containing the funds provided by FIFA and AFC only for the development of football,” he added.

He added that Sharif family’s lust to control every institution in Pakistan, despite legal limitations which they have no respect for, has destroyed Pakistan football. Their failure to takeover PFF and install Captain (r) Safdar, despite using all illegal means including coercion, physical harassment and sheer misuse of institutions under their control including police and federal investigative agency, led to their goons illegally occupying the PFF by using force. PFF had filed for an application for registration of an FIR, which till date has not been registered.

Faisal lamented that millions of football players and fans have lost their dreams due to this ban on Pakistan football. “It has tarnished the global image of Pakistan. The credit of depriving Pakistani youth of international football activities goes to Sharif family, which has nothing to do with football but they just wanted to occupy it for personal gains,” he added.

Senior PFF official Col (r) Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi has said that due to the best diplomatic efforts of Faisal Saleh Hayat on international football’s front, Pakistan was included among 50 destinies selected for FIFA World Cup 2018, Russia Trophy world tour, which itself was a huge event to portray positive image of the country globally. “But if the suspension remains, Pakistan will be excluded from the list of the countries where the World Cup 2018 Russia Trophy Tour is to be carried out. It is interesting that no other country of South Asia region included India is selected for this prestigious happening,” he added.

Lodhi said he had long anticipated the ban following the government's intervention in the federation's affairs. "We are FIFA's recognised body but the government interfered in our affairs and did not let us work. This situation was unacceptable for FIFA and they have now decided to impose a ban on Pakistan membership, which is very unfortunate."