AIFF cleared to host Pakistan football team for SAFF Championship

The regional football tournament will be played in Bangalore this month

June 07, 2023
Pakistan football team — PFF

KARACHI: A major hurdle in the Pakistan Football team's participation in this month's SAFF Championship was cleared on Wednesday when All India Football Federation (AIFF) got clearance from Indian government to host the Shaheens.

Reliable sources in both India and Pakistan football have confirmed to this correspondent that India's Sports, Interior and Foreign ministeries has provided all required clearances for Pakistan's participation in the tournament.

The regional football tournament will be played in Bangalore from 21st June to 4th July, and for the event, Pakistan will be in India from 18th June to 5th July.

Sources told Geo News that AIFF has sent an email to the PFF providing them all necessary documents along with the official invitation letter.

The documents are also forwarded to Indian embassies in Islamabad and Mauritius for issuance of visa to Pakistan football team members.

A source in PFF confirmed that Pakistan is planning to apply for Indian visas from Mauritius as the team is flying there to participate in four-nation tournament.

Sources also confirmed that while Pakistan's foreign office has issued clearance for team to travel to Mauritius, a decision on team's visit is yet to be made.

Football is not the only sport affected due to strained relations between Pakistan and India, since there is also uncertainty around Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) hosting cricket’s Asia Cup this year.

It must be noted that Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has refused to send their team to Pakistan for the Asia Cup and is keen on ensuring that the event is held at a neutral venue.

However, the PCB is not keen on hosting the event outside Pakistan since it would affect its efforts with regards to the return of international cricket in the country.

Although, Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged that sports should be kept away from politics during his trip to Goa, last month, where he attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

“I believe we shouldn’t hold sport hostage to politics or foreign policy — sports inherently should be kept away from politics. It would be very petty of India if it were to hold sport hostage to politics,” Bilawal said at a press conference.  


Four-nation Cup

June 11 Pakistan vs Mauritius

June 14 Pakistan vs Kenya

June 17 Pakistan vs Djibouti

SAFF Championship

June 21 Pakistan vs India

June 24 Pakistan vs Kuwait

June 27 Pakistan vs Nepal

Faizan Lakhani is Deputy Editor (Sports) at Geo News.