FIFA suspends Pakistan until ‘hostile takeover’ of PFF HQ is ended

By Andrew Warshaw

April 7 – Not for the first time, Pakistan football has been plunged into disarray after the country was handed an international ban by FIFA for ‘third-party interference’ following a coup by former leaders of the national federation (PFF).

Last month  a group led by former PFF President Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah seized control by storming  the federation’s head office saying they were concerned over the way a FIFA-imposed normalisation committee was operating.

The Shah-led PFF handed control to the normalisation committee in September 2019 but tensions have been brewing ever since over delays in holding fresh elections.

Both FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) warned of serious consequences if the premises were not handed back to  Normalization Committee chief Haroon Malik to allow his team to continue running PFF affairs.

FIFA said in Wednesday’s statement that its decision to suspend the PFF with immediate effect was prompted by the “hostile takeover” which constituted a serious violation of its statutes.

“FIFA issued a letter warning that, should the illegitimate occupation of the PFF headquarters not be lifted and the office bearers recognised by FIFA not be permitted free access to the building to carry out their mandate, the matter would be immediately submitted to the Bureau of the Council for decision,” FIFA said.

“As the situation remains unchanged, the Bureau of the Council has decided to suspend the PFF.”

It is the second time in four years Pakistan has been suspended, the same thing happening in October 2017, when the country was kicked out for six months following another election dispute.

“This situation was prompted by the recent hostile takeover of the PFF headquarters in Lahore by a group of protesters and an alleged decision by certain individuals to remove the FIFA-appointed normalization committee of the PFF led by Haroon Malik and to hand over the leadership of the PFF to Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah,” FIFA continued.

“This suspension will only be lifted once FIFA has received confirmation from the normalization committee of the PFF that the PFF’s premises, accounts, administration and communication channels are again under its full control and it can continue to carry out its mandate without further hindrance.”

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