'Totally unacceptable': FIFA warns Pakistan of suspension after 'illegitimate' take over

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Amartya SharmaUpdated: Mar 31, 2021, 02:28 PM IST
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A file photo. Photograph:(Reuters)

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In a letter to the Pakistan Football Federation, FIFA said it "strongly condemns the incident and considers such actions to be totally unacceptable"

FIFA has warned of suspending the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) if its secretariat in Lahore was not handed back to the FIFA-installed Normalisation Committee by 8 PM on Wednesday.  

PFF Normalisation Committee chairman Haroon Malik, in a statement, said he received a letter from FIFA that condemned "illegitimate occupation of the PFF headquarters". 

The letter stated that the federation could be "suspended should the illegitimate occupation of the PFF headquarters not be lifted and the office bearers recognised by FIFA not be permitted free access to the building".

The row erupted after a group of football officials led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah, who had been elected in a poll held by the Supreme Court in 2018, took over the PFF Headquarters in Lahore on Saturday evening. Shah went on to claim that his officials don't fear FIFA and being banned will not affect them. 

Haroon Malik, in the statement, said that if the occupants under Shah, do not comply with the orders, the world's football governing body will "immediately" submit the matter to "the Bureau of the Council for decision, which might include the suspension of PFF on the basis of [Article] 16 para 1 of the FIFA Statutes".

The letter said that FIFA "strongly condemns the incident and considers such actions to be totally unacceptable".

"We would like to remind all relevant parties, in particular the individuals who invaded the PFF premises, that the Normalisation Committee of PFF, established by a decision of the Bureau of the Council and later ratified by the FIFA Council, and which is currently led by your person (Haroon Malik), is the sole executive body of PFF recognised by FIFA," it added.

"FIFA further considers that the illegitimate occupation of the PFF headquarters, as well as any decision to take over the leadership of the PFF from the Normalisation Committee appointed by FIFA, constitutes an undue interference in the affairs of the Federation, therefore violating the obligations imposed on PFF by [Article] 14 para 1 let. i) and [Article] 19 of the FIFA Statutes."

As per FIFA, the Pakistan Football Federation will lose all its membership rights like "the right of PFF's national teams or any of its clubs to participate in any international competitions, as well as the right of PFF and its members to benefit from FIFA's financial/development programmes". 

The letter was sent by FIFA's Secretary General Fatma Samoura and received by Haroon Malik, the NC chairman.