LAHORE - Internationally-recognised Pakistan footballer Kaleem Ullah has urged the government to bring the game out of courts and resolve the PFF issue in a fair and transparent manner.

Kaleem, the first Pakistan football player who has honour of playing in a professional football club in America, lamented that Pakistan football had been going through a dark period for almost one year, since when it had been stopped allegedly on government pressures. Besides the hundreds of thousands football players, coaches, referees and the entire football fraternity was worried and struggling for their bread and butter.

“Not only the football players are extremely worried but the same deep concern is being shown by the referees, coaches and the whole football family of Pakistan. Unfortunately, many of the young footballers were thinking about shifting from this game to another. Football is stopped altogether and everybody closely observing the situation blames the government for all this fiasco,” said Kaleem, who is currently playing for the US’ Tulsa Roughnecks club.

Kaleem said that only cricket and cricketers had been given all the attention, appreciation and rewards which was the main reason behind the decline of all other sports in the country. “When Pakistan football has stated gaining popularity at international level and Pakistan players have started earning places in international football clubs due to sincere efforts of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) president Faisal Saleh Hayat and his team, all of sudden a group of people backed by the local government have attempted to occupy Pakistan football and from that time to date, players, officials as well as Pakistan football have been suffering badly. If government doesn’t intervene and resolves the matter, Pakistan football will be nowhere and it will take a long time to repair the damages.”

Another football legend M Essa has criticized the government saying that Pakistan football has badly lost its goals. “For the last 10 years, the PFF has laid all the foundations needed for a visible growth in the game. I am afraid all is going wasted due to the worst situation of the game in Pakistan.”

Holding the government solely responsible for this scenario, Essa said; “Football is being treated in the same way as Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) was treated. On the other hand, due to alleged government interference, cricket and hockey, the two major sports of Pakistan have already gone to the worst levels.

“The government should wake up and resolve the PFF issue, the way it wisely resolved the POA matter as Faisal-led PFF is only FIFA-recognised body and if we want our players to feature in international events once again, the government has to allow Faisal-led PFF to run the federation’s affair in a befitting manner and bring Pakistan football back to right track.”