FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers: Pakistan's home leg against Jordan set to take place at neutral venue

The match was set to take place in Islamabad on March 21

January 22, 2024
Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad. - PFF

KARACHI: Football enthusiasts in Pakistan may miss the opportunity to witness Pakistan's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Jordan on home turf, as the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has confirmed that Islamabad's Jinnah Stadium falls short of FIFA standards.

In a statement released on Monday, the PFF conveyed that it is actively exploring alternative venues to ensure the game takes place at a neutral location.

"In collaboration with the Pakistan Sports Board, the Pakistan Football Federation has been dedicatedly working on preparing Jinnah Stadium for the upcoming March match against Jordan, following the successful," PFF stated.

"Regrettably, despite our best efforts, the current standard of Jinnah Stadium does not meet FIFA requirements," it added.

The PFF highlighted a significant challenge related to lighting conditions, stating, "as the March game is scheduled to be held under lights and coincides with Ramazan, meeting FIFA’s lighting standards with the current setup has posed difficulties”.

Citing the January 21 deadline for venue submission and a commitment to upholding the game's integrity, the PFF affirmed its decision to explore alternative options.

"We will be in contact with the Jordan Football Association to discuss arrangements for a neutral venue for the home leg," the statement added.

After the PFF's announcement, DG PSB posted a letter on social media account in which the PFF was informed on January 19 that the football stadium of Jinnah Sports Complex would be ready before the match.

However, when contacted by Geo News, PFF Head of Legal Ali Akram said that he had not received any such letter from the PSB till Monday afternoon.

Sources further added that PFF has asked for more time to confirm the venue of the match, but the AFC has not yet given a response.

PFF is in contact with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a neutral venue.

Jinnah Stadium previously hosted Pakistan's home game in the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Tajikistan in November, drawing a crowd of 24,000 spectators cheering for the national team.

While Pakistan's next home match against Jordan is scheduled for March 21st, this recent development has left football fans in Pakistan disappointed.

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