ISLAMABAD - Punjab Football Association (PFA) president Sardar Naveed Haider Khan has said that Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) needs government support for the betterment of Pakistan football, which suffered a lot during last three years of occupation.

Talking to The Nation, Sardar said: “Ever since Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat took over the reins of PFF, things were moving fast in right direction. The players, who in the past were hardly getting anything, were provided hefty daily allowances and jobs in different departments. They also started getting contracts in international leagues.

“But sadly when the things were gradually improving and Pakistan football was at the rise, certain elements spoiled all the good work done by Makhdoom and Pakistan had to face FIFA ban,” he added.

The PFA chief said: “The worst thing was the open interference of the previous government in the PFF elections in 2015, which were conducted under FIFA observation and Makhdoom Faisal was elected PFF president and I was elected a Punjab president. But certain individuals supported by former PM Nawaz Sharif tried to make elections controversial on the behest of government with the help of Punjab government and they were demanding Capt (R) Safdar as PFF president and Ali Haider Niazi as Punjab president.

“FIFA has clear rules, which doesn’t allow any intervention from a third party. But against all the odds, an administrator was appointed, who withdrew hefty Rs 500,000 monthly salary and no football activity was witnessed during his tenure and the players and officials suffered badly,” he added.

Sardar said: “Our voters were given threats and were told to vote for their favourite candidate during the fresh Punjab elections. But I once again got 23 votes and won by two/third majority in May this year. I got the mandate and launched different projects and formed U-16 girls team and U-19 boys’ teams.”

The PFA president said Pakistan football team defeated better-ranked Nepal in Asian Games after 44 years. “Although it’s not a big victory, but at least we came out of three-year turmoil. Our foreign coach is doing his best and trying to transform our talent in champions. I request PM Imran Khan to invite us for a meeting and we want soccer to flourish, we are elected people and we deserve to serve football.”

He said: “It is my humble request to newly elected Prime Minster Imran Khan to look into the last three years and also our tenure, where we had worked tirelessly and ensured maximum soccer-related activities, besides international officials turned up in numbers to visit Pakistan and they were highly satisfied with the work done by Makhdoom Faisal and his team.  “I request the PM to allocate land in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, where we will start work. An academy in Quetta is ready and we want to have meeting with Chief Ministers Punjab and KP to discuss things and start academies. The government should fully back us and we will carry forward all the goals, we have set and will achieve them gradually,” Sardar concluded.