Pakistan National Women Football Team captain Hajra Khan has urged President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan to resolve issues pertaining to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).
In a video message, Khan said: “Today I speak in utmost sadness that the Pakistan Football Federation was suspended today for the second time in the last five years.”
“I speak on behalf of all those football players, whose hard earned bread came from the sport. It came from representing Pakistan. We’ve worked hard, blood and sweat, to represent this country and we’ve taken it to the podium, we’ve won championships in the past,” said Khan.
“Where do we go next? What is next for us? What sport do we switch to? Who do we rely on? Where do we express our love for the country, how do we do it,” she questioned.
Requesting the President and Prime Minister, Khan said: “Today I request the President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice of the matter. There is still hope and we are expecting a response from you two. We expect the country to back us when we need them the most right now.”
“It is a request, it might not be humble anymore, but it is a request. It is a need, it is a representation from all football players and again, it all relies on you,” she added.
Reiterating her point, Khan in the caption said: “Players have all been affected roughly. Football as a sport has been ridiculed over time in Pakistan.”
“Who’s answerable,” she questioned.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has said that they are “surprised” by the ban, expressing that the decision was taken in “haste.”
PSB director-general Col (retd) Asif Zaman while talking to The News, said that Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Dr Fehmida Mirza had requested patience during her press conference held a couple of days back.
“We were not expecting such a hasty decision from the football’s governing body. It has shocked us as the game of football will be the ultimate sufferer after such a decision. The minister had assured her help for resolving the issue in the best interest of the game,” said Col Zaman, adding: “Though the government does not want any interference, for the sake of the game’s future we wanted an amicable settlement of the issue.”
Zaman said he was expecting FIFA to carry out a detailed and thorough review of the prevailing situation.
“We were taken by surprise by this hasty decision that I feel would serve no good to the future of the game. We were expecting a rational review of the situation by the game’s governing body before imposing a suspension on the PFF,” said the DG.
The FIFA in a handout issued on Wednesday said the decision to suspend Pakistan was prompted by the recent takeover of the PFF’s Headquarters in Lahore by a group of protesters and an alleged decision by certain individuals to remove the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee of the PFF led by Haroon Malik and to hand over the leadership of the PFF to Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah.
When PFF president Ashfaq Shah was approached in Islamabad where he was nursing his minor surgery, he said he was disappointed by the decision like any other Pakistani.
In 2009, Khan was selected in the Pakistan national team for the 2010 South Asian Games in Dhaka, Bangladesh. After Khan’s participation at this event, the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) selected her for a FIFA women’s football coaching course in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In December 2010, she played in the inaugural SAFF Women’s Championship, helping Pakistan reach the semi-final.
21 year old Hajra Khan made history for Pakistani national women football team when she invited to top three German football clubs SGS Essen, FSV Gütersloh 2009 and VfL Sindelfingen to play, she spent three weeks there and played preseason trials. Being a Pakistani international footballer that opportunity was an important milestone in her career, she said.
She was the first Pakistani women footballer to sign an international contract in 2014 with Sun Hotels & Resorts Football Club to play in the Maldives National Women’s league.