ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Football Federation (PF) Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat Thursday said that successful hosting of 3rd SAFF Women Soccer Championship will help in reviving international sports in the country.

Talking to The Nation, Faisal said: “It was almost an impossible task of firstly getting the rights to conduct the 3rd SAFF Women Soccer Championship in Pakistan and to convince the teams to travel to the country. Frankly, we didn't enjoy much cordial relations with the member countries, but I am grateful to all the seven countries, as they pose confidence in me and send their teams to take part in the mega event.”

“For the last five years, I managed to arrange international matches in Pakistan in which Iran, UAE, Korea, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Palestine national teams participated. I used my personal relations to convince the teams to come and play in Pakistan and assured them all kinds of sporting facilities. Now I am glad, all these teams and delegates personally witnessed the ground reality which is far different from what they had heard about Pakistan. I am very grateful to IPC minister Mian Riaz for helping the PFF in this national cause. I am also thankful to Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) for providing accommodation and other facilities,” he said.

He added: “It is because of my personal relations that not only AFC president Salman Al-Khalifa is here but also SAARC football family members from Bangladesh, Malaysia and other countries are also here. I have proved my worth and raised the country's flag high not only in Asia but also at international level. We enjoy tremendous respect in FIFA and AFC. Male teams and players were scared to visit Pakistan, so I manage to host female mega event in Pakistan. I wanted to organise the event in Lahore, but Punjab government didn't respond. I am very grateful to the PSB which lend a helping hand and offered to host the event in Islamabad.”

“I have declined to arrange extra security measures for visiting teams and officials. I have given instructions to allow them to travel to different parts and places of the capital themselves to witness the reality. We have already bid for two mega events U-22 qualification, in which nine teams of the region will participate and the AFC Youth Championship, in which 13 countries will participate. I am sure all these delegates will advocate for Pakistan and we will get the rights to conduct the events. The successful holding of SAFF Women Championship will pave way for international sports revival in Pakistan,” Faisal stated.

“I will request government and especially corporate sector to come forward and lend a helping hand to the PFF. Without their active support, we can't fulfill our ambitions of taking Pakistan soccer to new heights. Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka invest heavily in their national football teams and Bangladesh Premier Soccer League worth four times more than the entire PFF annual budget. Indians spent a whopping Rs 8,500 million in football, while we have only RS 70 to 80 million annual budget. Corporate sector can play vital role in helping the Pakistan football in achieving set goals,” he said.

Faisal added they had decided to conduct SAARC Men's Soccer Championship in 2017, just like they did in 2005 in Karachi. “I am quite hopeful, we will land the rights of hosting the event. The PFF is affiliated with FIFA and AFC and we follow their charter. I have made it clear to the PSB when they were drafting national sports policy, we will follow international rules and regulations, as we can't afford to inflict ban on Pakistan. FIFA has made it clear to all the member countries, that it will not tolerate government intervention, as a number of countries were banned, who breach the FIFA rules and regulations.”

When this scribe asked Faisal whether he would contest the PFF elections next year, he replied: “There is still time left before the elections, which are scheduled in November 2015. I have taken a number of initiatives, continuation of policies required to ensure Pakistan football remain in safe hands. If my football family members back me and want me to carry on, I will definitely contest next elections. I know some certain elements are trying to derail all the good work done by me and my team. They were badly defeated in the past and would get the same from football family. We will not let them succeed in their designs.”

“It is my firm belief Asia has the population of more than 1.5 billion people and it is the biggest nursery of producing quality players. This region is bound to rule the soccer world, as football enjoys largest fan following here. We have started work on several projects, and we are in acute shortage of funds. Without spectators, there is no charm for players, so I will request to people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and other areas to come and watch the final, as it will send a very clear message to international community and help Pakistan a great deal in hosting many more events like this in near future,” Faisal concluded.