FIFA lifts Pakistan suspension


 FIFA President Gianni Infantino (l) gets into his waiting vehicle after a tour of the Doha Exhibition & Convention Center (DECC) in the West Bay district. The DECC will host the Fifa Congress on March 31 and the group draw for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on April 1. 

Football’s world governing body FIFA on Thursday lifted the suspension imposed on Pakistan and extended the mandate of normalisation committee for a year.

FIFA took the decision after all pertinent requirements were fulfilled by Pakistan, who now will not only return to the international football circuit but will also be able to hold its leagues and other events through the financial assistance of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

“The Bureau of the FIFA Council decided on June 29, 2022 to lift the suspension that was imposed on the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) in April 2021 due to undue third-party interference,” FIFA said in a brief press statement on Thursday.

“The decision was taken after FIFA received confirmation that the normalisation committee of the PFF had regained full control of PFF’s premises and was in a position to manage its finances,” it said. “The PFF was also informed that any undue interference in its affairs or action that could hinder the fulfilment of the mandate of normalisation committee might lead to the PFF being suspended again and or the imposition of other sanctions provided for in the FIFA Statutes,” the statement said.

“As the deadline by which the normalisation committee was required to fulfil its mandate (30 June 2022) is now no longer realistic, the Bureau has also decided to extend the committee’s mandate until June 30, 2023, at the latest. This will enable the latter to finally carry out the tasks assigned to it in full,” the statement said.

NC chairman Haroon Malik was happy with the outcome. “It’s a historic day for Pakistan football,” Haroon said. “I congratulate the Pakistani nation and the football community of the country on this occasion. The NC is determined to fulfilling the mandate of FIFA. We will not only restore national events but will also ensure Pakistan features in international events,” he said.

FIFA suspended Pakistan in April last year, just days after the Ashfaq Group occupied the PFF headquarters in Lahore. FIFA had given them a few days’ deadline to hand over the PFF headquarters to the normalisation committee but the group remained adamant and that forced the world body to suspend the country for the third party’s interference.

In November last year, the Punjab government, however, seized the PFF headquarters for lease reasons. And it was expected that the issue would get prolonged but due to the timely interference by former federal minister of IPC Dr Fehmida Mirza, NC was given the possession of the headquarters in March this year.

There was also the accounts issue that could further dent the country’s football future but NC did a great job on that front too and now is in position to manage its finances. Pakistan also had to face international isolation for six months in 2017-2018. When the suspension lifted in early 2018, the national team was able to play the World Cup qualifiers against Cambodia.

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