By Sohail Ali
LAHORE, Oct 28 (APP):The football community of Pakistan, including the organisers and footballers, have expressed their concerns over prolonged football crisis in the country.
Addressing a press conference here at the Sports Journalists Association of Lahore (SJAL) office here on Thursday, all genuine stakeholders of the Pakistan football demanded Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah and Malik Amir Dogar group to unconditionally vacate the FIFA House as per instructions of games ruling body (International Football Federation) FIFA, saying that if the control was not returned to the PFF normalisation committee by Nov 10, they will hold a sit-in in front of the PFF Headquarters in Lahore.
The football representatives from Islamabad, all four provinces, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan including Irfan Khan Niazi from Islamabad, Saeed Khan Taqqo, former secretary from Balochistan, Azam Khan, former secretary Sindh FA, Ali Bihar Brohi from Jacobabad, Muhammad Azeem from Gilgit-Baltistan, former legendary player Saleem Patni, former official referee association Muhammad Shafiq were present to represent the football community of Pakistan.
Khalid Sheikh and Iqbal Sheikh, vice presidents from Punjab, Ali Gohar and Afrasiab Khan from KPK, Amjad Butt, Shiraz Ahmed, and Muzaffar Iqbal Noori from Azad Jammu and Kashmir could not make it due to the road blockades for some religious party protests.
Saeed Khan Taqqo said: “We are the actual stakeholders who are facing the loss, facing the deprived players, coaches and referees, and facing embarrassment every day. It is cruel to keep another generation of young footballers out of the international arena. It would be a criminal silence not to speak now.
“FIFA provides huge funds for the development of the game.”
He added that the future of thousands of footballers had been plunged into darkness due to the football crisis in Pakistan since 2015; the game is on the brink of disaster due to FIFA sanctions, he added.
Taqqo said that the only aim of the participants present at the press conference was to bring international football back into Pakistan and put the sport on the right track where it could reach a respectable destination.
“On March 27, many of my colleagues, including me, who went to the FIFA house, were unaware that the Ashfaq Group wanted to take over FIFA House which led to the suspension of Pakistan’s FIFA membership and the loss of international events, now Pakistan remains the only suspended country in the world.
“We have repeatedly tried to convince Malik Mohammad Amir Dogar and Syed Ashfaq Hussain group members that the occupation of FIFA house is wreaking havoc on Pakistani football,” Taqqo asserted.
He added that the Pakistan football community would boycott any elections that were not recognised by FIFA and AFC. “If such elections are held and accepted by us, Pakistan will remain suspended until 2028.
“According to the Normalisation Committee, it has presented a roadmap to the government; the document should also be shared with the football community. Free, fair, and transparent elections are the only solution to the crisis. We demand NC to form an advisory committee of all stakeholders,” he informed the journalists.
The participants warned the illegal occupants should evacuate the PFF headquarters by Nov 10, 2021, and hand over to FIFA’s designated Normalization Committee; otherwise, thousands of football enthusiasts, organisers, and footballers will hold a sit-in in front of FIFA House Lahore until their demands are met.