KARACHI: The April talks have now been delayed till May, and they will only prolong the football crisis in Pakistan.
The joint FIFA/AFC fact-finding mission to Pakistan, that was due to come later this month to meet with the stakeholders and decide on a way forward to extricate the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) out of the situation it finds itself in, will now come in May, global football body FIFA said.
“The visit was initially scheduled for April 24-25 but, at the request of PFF’s President and General Secretary, it has been postponed to a later date in May,” a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn.
The PFF officials FIFA is referring to are the ones it recognises: president Faisal Saleh Hayat and general secretary retired Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi. The PFF recognised in the country is the one led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah, who was elected in an election held in December last year which was ordered by the Supreme Court.
“On this question we kindly refer you to PFF,” the FIFA spokesperson added when asked if the PFF officials gave a reason for postponing the visit of the mission.
FIFA announced last week, after a meeting of its Member Associations Committee on April 3, it was going to send a joint mission with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to the country.
“The Member Associations Committee has decided to send a FlFA/AFC fact-finding mission to Pakistan to discuss with all parties, assess the situation and at a later stage make concrete proposals for the way forward,” it had said then.
The officials of the Hayat faction were contacted to ask why they had asked for postponement of the mission’s visit but there was no response till the filing of this report. Last week, Hayat was elected vice-president of the AFC.
The delay in the resolution of the PFF crisis could lead to Pakistan missing out on participation in the first qualifying round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. Asia’s 12 worst teams enter the first qualifying round, the draw for which would be on April 17 and the first batch of the games to be played on June 6.