No wonder that the football federation in Pakistan has been banned once again; the surprise element is what exactly the ‘thing’ on which the ban is imposed? Do we really have any football left or a governing body of it? Some naïve people thought that this game is forbidden in our country and they tried to actually stop some soccer enthusiasts, who were still playing this ‘bad’ game where the ball is treated roughly.
But it is soccer as the game which has been served roughly by our authorities. To acquire ‘authority ’and ‘funds’, the world’s most popular sports is damned here; first of all, those who run the sports body are incompetent and then they are also involved in a tug-of-war. Those who had nothing to do with the promotion of the game, intervened to make gains, then another opportunist got involved, and the intrusions kept coming on. Subsequently, International body FIFA at last barged in and declared that “Pakistan’s international entry into football is closed due to third party interference”. In other words, Pakistan’s ‘tiresome team’ has been grounded like PIA planes and the world media is laughing to scorn, in particular Indian newspapers and media.
In a crowded country of 220 million, it appears only one sport cricket is left which is ceaselessly autopsied from every angle. The world’s most popular sport soccer, which has an estimated fan base of three and a half to four billion people globally, is still popular in Pakistan today besides any patronage and support. As the most global and competitive sports, it requires the best policy, domestic settlement, and modern planning, yet here the already existing stadiums and infrastructure are turned into the wreckage. Seemingly, development is out of the question.
Almost three decades ago, when adequate international funding for the game was carried out, in the Pakistan Football Federation, the ‘football of power ’commenced between two sons of Lahore: president of football federation and politician of Muslim League Mian Azhar and Secretary federation from Jamat-e-Islami Hafiz Salman Butt. The League’s politician was able to expel the Jamat’s politician through the international organization FIFA.
It was Hafiz Sahib’s ‘passionate’ retaliation, and relentless pursuing against Mian Azhar, which eventually worked in his favour and got the opportunity to send Mian packing with the aid of Faisal Saleh Hayat. But Faisal, always a ‘staunch’ politician, once again black-listed Butt through FIFA. Since the Mian-Butt time, these head-to-head conflicts and groupings, and nepotism has been the hallmark of our federation which was itself inaugurated by Quaid-e-Azam in 1948.Now Pakistan’s ranking in football is at such a dismal low that there is probably nothing below it.
Our rulers, including politicians, and others in power have always been keen in the presidency and other key positions of the sports federations like Kabaddi, boxing, hockey, Olympics committee and others. Hardly any sports, but its organizations do exist. The reasons are clear: authority and funds; especially in football federation, its position and authority is lucrative as the international organization gives away a handsome amount of money for the promotion of the game. Our authorities complain that there are no resources; if that’s the case, then why holding up the position with such interest?
Assuming that there is no misappropriation of funds, yet those who run these games are not selected or elected on the basis of merit and aptitude. No one is unaware of what happens in the name of elections. They have their own persons in general bodies and the groups. Even FIFA is kept in the dark and when an investigation is held, another ban and ‘kick’ is the fate.
At the Football World Cups, we used to sigh and hope that the Pakistani team will ever qualify, but that dream has also disappeared into thin air. All that now happens is that we ended up supporting other favourite teams; Brazil, Argentina, or a weak Muslim country under the ‘Islamic Brotherhood’.
It is not exaggerated to state that Pakistan has more passion and talent for football than the neighbouring countries. The people of Lyari, Makrani, Balochi, Pathan, and others play football in much passionate and articulate way, but obviously without government patronage and a ‘working federation’, Pakistan can never find a place in the world, let alone Asia; even it is now lagging behind in South Asia.
Apart from cricket, all other sports have been pushed over under the scheme or due to incompetence. In cricket too, one world cup is rather ‘too much’ for us to hold. Even the popular sport like football is neglected, and its federation is like a three-ring circus which brought humiliation of being penalized and kicked.