FIFA to send fact-finding team to Pakistan as PFF power struggle continues

April 17 – World governing body FIFA is to send a fact-finding mission to Pakistan to assess the administrative crisis in the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), but the FIFA delegation seems unlikely to issues sanctions preventing Pakistan from taking part in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Yesterday the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) staged the draw for the first round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers which pits Asia’s 12 lowest-ranked teams, including Pakistan, in a two-legged tie against each other. Pakistan were drawn against Cambodia with the first leg =t be played on June 6 and the second on June 11.

At this end of the month FIFA will have representatives in Pakistan to assess the football administration and PFF’s split leadership, according to Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

FIFA recognises PFF president Faisal Saleh Hayat and general secretary retired Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi as the legitimate leadership of the federation, but they are not recognised in Pakistan, where the PFF is led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah. The latter was elected in December 2018 after Pakistan’s supreme court had stepped into the constitutional crisis and ordered elections.

Recently Hayat has withdrawn several national teams from competition. Pakistan were eliminated from the qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as Hayat forced the team to step back from the AFC U-23 Championship. The women’s national team has also been affected by the infighting in the federation.

While FIFA seem unlikely to suspend the PFF, the lack of organisational action from the Hayat faction might still see Pakistan pulling out of the World Cup qualifiers. In 2015 they were beaten over two legs by Yemen, who eventually qualified for the 2019 Asian Cup. In the three years since, Pakistan hasn’t played a competitive game as the PFF has been embroiled in a power struggle.

The country’s supreme court ordered fresh elections, but the election of Ashfaq resolved little as Zurich deemed it third-party interference. FIFA had given Hayat until March 2020 to organise new elections.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1558492702labto1558492702ofdlr1558492702owedi1558492702sni@o1558492702fni1558492702