KARACHI: As FIFA’s suspension from Pakistan is now lifted, the FIFA-appointed Normalization Committee of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has set resumption of football competition as its first priority.
Haroon Malik, the chairman of PFF-NC, told Geo News in an exclusive interview that first and foremost priority for the PFF is now to resume football activities on ground and make Pakistan appear in international contests once again.
“If there is no Football then nothing else matter,” Haroon said.
However, Haroon added that the bigger challenge for him now is the question that who should be in Pakistan team today?
“Our men’s team last played in 2019, women team hasn’t played for long too. We can’t expect them to be as fit and skilled as they were three years back, so we will have to go through a process to rebuild the team, there will be trials and a new team will be selected,” he said.
“I can’t say if there will be any or few players from the team that played in 2019, the coaching staff appointed will look at the players and decide,” Haroon added.
Haroon further added that there will be a 'contingent of coaches' who will work with men’s, women’s and age-group teams of Pakistan and the contingent will include a blend of local and foreign coaches.
“We have to groom our coaches as well so that they can also work at grassroots. Coaching is not just limited to coaching of one team, we need team of coaches including strength and conditioning coach and coaches to make players mentally stronger, we will provide best possible coaching staff to our footballers,” he said.
He also confirmed that PFF is eyeing to regain places in at least five age-group tournaments scheduled for this year and it will talk to SAF and AFC to seek opportunities for Pakistan.
Haroon also revealed that Pakistan Football Federation will talk to other Members Associations to arrange friendlies for Pakistan Football team.
“It is our top priority that Pakistan’s national team starts playing international football once again so that we can see Pakistan’s flag back in international football arena,” he said.
Replying to a question, the PFF chairman confirmed that the Federation has not got control of original bank accounts of the organization and an alternative arrangement has been made to settle financial issues.
“As you know that we had got the control of our head quarter – the football house – in March 2022 but due to pending cases in court we couldn’t get the control of accounts hence the lifting of suspension was delayed.”
“That delay was causing huge loss to football fraternity in Pakistan. FIFA also realizes that every child should have a right to the opportunity to play Football that’s why FIFA and PFF agreed on an alternative arrangement to run financial matters,” he said while adding that PFF’s quest in courts to regain full control of bank accounts will continue on sidelines.
He reaffirmed his commitment to hold PFF elections within the mandate’s deadline which now ends on July 30th 2023.
“The process, if there are no hurdles, will complete in 11 months and we are hopeful of completing the tasks given by FIFA within our mandate deadline,” Haroon said.
When asked to comment on future of those who took over offices last year and cased Pakistan’s suspension, Haroon remained calm and refrained from harsh criticism.
“I think if they can only realize what loss they’ve caused to football and footballers of Pakistan then even that guilt would be enough penalty on them. However, whatever is in constitution it has to be done by legal experts and I can not comment on what lies for them in future,” he concluded.