‘Adversarial occupation’ and breaking the glass: turmoil in Pakistan’s football | Football

A The football-loving country of 200 million people in the world, the sleeper of Asia is not China, India or Indonesia but Pakistan. “If things are done right, we can become a superpower,” Pakistani international Naveed Rehman told the Guardian. “It’s not because of a lack of skills or interest, but because of the way things are going. The problem is not Pakistan’s but the people’s control.

That is exactly what happened last Wednesday when FIFA banned Pakistan for the second time in four years after the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) called it a “hostile occupation”.

Aaron Malik – The head of FIFA’s normalization committee (NC) since January and the election of a new president of the PFF, as well as, among other things, he felt it was highly hostile. He told the Guardian that on March 27, he felt as if he had been kicked out of the PFF headquarters in Lahore by a group led by former President Ashfaq Hussain.

“I was just working there,” said Malik, who believes the attackers received internal support. “About three or three o’clock in the afternoon, 10 or 11 people came into my office and went downstairs. [Hussain] Led the attack and we started demanding the handing over of PFF accounts. I was terrified when the decimal level started to rise. And decided that now is the time to leave.

He claims that it was easier to work before he left. As we were leaving, they physically overpowered my staff. When I got to the downstairs door, it was crafted from the inside and I was already a little nervous and I didn’t know what to do. It was a glass door so I threw the doorstep through it and kicked the rest of the glass and we left.

As dramatic as it may sound, Hussein, who was elected president of the PFF in 2018, was not recognized by FIFA because it was ordered by Pakistan’s Supreme Court (although he says Pakistan’s laws override FIFA). ), Denies any threat. “This is a baseless statement,” he said, adding that he had accompanied 14 members of the PFF’s Congress and executive committee. “We met Aaron. “Give me five minutes to decide,” he said. We were all waiting for about 45 minutes so I went to ask her again and she came out of the office with her bag which was already full. We were on the second floor and on the way he picked up a brick and smashed one of the windows.

FIFA headquarters
A committee to normalize FIFA was tasked with reorganizing football in Pakistan. Photograph: Herald Cunningham / Getty Images

It would be easy to join the ranks of officials in Pakistan when discussing broken glass, but there are big issues. Malik, who was appointed by FIFA in January, said he would “give new impetus to the normalization process”. He said the time was needed because the PFF had not had a real election for a decade, which meant that compiling a complete voting register for all stakeholders was a long process. A public announcement was to be made in early April outlining the election roadmap.

Hussein wonders if there was such an intention. If a country with a population of more than 200 million can hold elections in three months, why haven’t elections been held in football? We waited for 18 months and didn’t even go near the building but they did nothing, but there is a limit.

There is currently no roof map, but FIFA has imposed an international ban for what it called “illegal occupation of the PFF building.” Hussein is exposed. Football in Pakistan will never stop. I kept writing to FIFA but they never responded. enough. If this is football then God help us.

Malik has described the suspension as a “brainwashing” that looks so silly when it thinks it will have an impact on sponsorship and facilities in football.. According to Rehman, the men’s national team is playing barely seven out of six games due to World Cup qualifying campaigns and early eliminations in the federation, but the ban would be “devastating”. “A lot of people’s livelihoods here are in jeopardy,” he said. “People have given up a lot to get there,” he said. They are playing with people’s lives and futures. We just want to represent our country.

Women athletes, who have already faced obstacles in playing in Pakistan, are also raising their voices. Organized by the NC, the teams immediately followed the National Women’s Championship. Just gave up. “Withdrawal was a tough decision,” said Cinderella Salamat of Sialkot City Women’s FC. ۔ “I called but we have decided that we will return to Sialkot. It was just wrong, and we can’t be part of it.

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Kaleemullah Khan, the captain of the men’s national team, has not been alone in bowing down to the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, who knows a thing or two about the game in Pakistan. The former cricket star has so far appeared silent, though the director general of the country’s public sports board has said the government is shocked and surprised by the ban.

There seemed to be no one else, but whatever happened, he thought there was damage. They have already moved a lot of records, computers and staff from the building. You can’t interrupt a game and then move on as if nothing has happened but we don’t want to lose another generation of players and officials.

Hussein has said Ready to negotiate with FIFA And insists the NC may return on certain conditions. “We are still open to FIFA and we say: come and hold elections.” We will provide space in the building for this but they cannot control everything. We are the elected body and Pakistan football will continue.

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