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FIFA Suspends Pakistan Again Over Politicized 'Occupation' Of Soccer Federation


A local news channel crew filming outside the FIFA office in Lahore. (file photo)

Soccer's global governing body FIFA has suspended Pakistan's membership amid a dispute over local representation that FIFA describes as a "hostile takeover."

FIFA's leadership council said the Pakistani side had failed to respond to a letter of warning aimed at ending the "occupation" by protesters of the Pakistani Football Federation (PFF)'s offices in Lahore.

"The Bureau of the FIFA Council suspended the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) with immediate effect due to third-party interference, which constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes," FIFA announced alongside word of an unrelated suspension for Chad as well.

A regional soccer power four decades ago, Pakistan has since struggled in the sport and has been kicked out before over political meddling.

Its national soccer federation has been run by a FIFA-appointed committee for over a year.

Then last week, FIFA's opponents tossed the internationally backed leadership from their offices in Lahore last week citing what they said were legitimate elections to run the federation.

"This situation was prompted by the recent hostile takeover of the PFF headquarters in Lahore by a group of protesters and an alleged decision by certain individuals to remove the FIFA-appointed normalization committee of the PFF led by Haroon Malik and to hand over the leadership of the PFF to Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah," FIFA said to explain the fresh suspension.

A number of Pakistani national team members have spoken out to express their frustration and shame at the events that have swept up the Pakistani federation.

They warned that Pakistani soccer had fallen hostage to politics and the result is serious damage to fans and footballers themselves.

Pakistan has seen little success in international soccer, with its men's team currently 200th out of FIFA's 210 teams.

But the federation in March hailed its plan to participate in this year's South Asian Football Federation Championship in Bangladesh in September as a return to competitive soccer.

Based on reporting by AFP

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