LAHORE - Players of national football teams have appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Justice Saqib Nisar to save Pakistan football from FIFA suspension.

The national and U-23 football teams are on a tour to Qatar in a training camp to prepare for the upcoming SAFF Games and AFC U-23 Championship in March 2019 followed by the biggest event of them all, Pre-World Cup 2022 Qualification in June 2019. In the Qatar Tour, Pakistan U-23 team has already played against Palestine U-23 team, whereas the national football team has played a match against Qatar national Army team. They are further scheduled to play against the U-23 teams of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The national team players have expressed deep concerns over the recent events in Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), wherein on the order of Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan, the elections of the federation were conducted and a body was elected on the December 12, 2018. The elections were not being recognised by FIFA and are seen as third party interference, they added.

They said that SC-appointed RO Shoaib Shaheen had requested FIFA and AFC to send their observers for the PFF elections. “FIFA in its strong reply had contested the idea and stated that it had given Pakistan Football Federation a mandate till March 2020 to revise their statutes and hold fresh elections and any hindrance in the provided roadmap would be considered as violation of the FIFA Statutes and could lead to serious consequences including suspension of the PFF.”

In the leadership of Pakistan captain Saddam Hussain, the national and U-23 teams have appealed to PM Imran Khan and Chief Justice Saqib Nisar to save Pakistan football from FIFA suspension. “It would be detrimental for Pakistan football in particular as Pakistan team, under the national team coaching panel, are working hard preparing for the Pre-World Cup 2022 Qualification Round scheduled to be held in June 2019, and any violation of the FIFA Statutes including deviation from the FIFA Provided Roadmap for PFF to revise their statutes and hold fresh elections by 2020 would lead to suspension of the PFF meaning thereby that Pakistan football would be cut off from the global football family and lose all its rights to participate in international events organized by the AFC and FIFA.

“Also it would have a massive impact on local football including Pakistan Premier League teams, which comprise of majority departmental team, who spend millions of rupees every year to participate in local events in order for their players to be selected for national team and represent Pakistan at international level along with their aspiration to win the league and qualify for the AFC Asian Cup,” he added.

Hassan Bashir, one of the most prolific strikers of national team playing in Danish Football, said: “Pakistan football has already suffered a lot to three years of no football due to a similar situation which led to PFF getting suspended. We are in the recovery mode from all the losses incurred by the players, coaches, technical officials, associated with this beautiful game in Pakistan.

“Another stoppage to the game would have severe effects on local football and also our national team, which has since getting operational in March, participated in all international events organised by AFC and SAFF and played various friendlies in Bahrain and Qatar in a bid to prepare for the upcoming international events.”