The drawbacks of a private football league in Karachi


July 25, 2010

According to the Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) 2010 calendar, the Pakistan Premier League (PPL) was scheduled to kick off from May but unfortunately it was replaced by a private football league, which is local in nature, limited to one city and is bound to meet with failure as it did four years ago.

A national domestic league serves as the backbone of football in a country. Unlike other competitions, it is mainly responsible for the organisation of the game across the country, holding matches in different cities at one time, participation of all football communities at national level, equal opportunities to all regions and tapping the football talent at macro level. In return, the national federation grasps a wider and fresher pool of players to select a strong national outfit, besides enabling footballers to pursue their career at professional level.

Its how the cycle of football runs around the world and there could be no alternative of national league if one aims to develop and strengthen football. FIFA always stresses the development and consolidation of national league in all their associations, which is vital for improvement and success of any football nation at international level.

However, it is an irony that a domestic football league or a championship in Pakistan has remained underdeveloped for decades due to negligence, mismanagement, lack of support and corruption. The Pakistan national team suffered as a result, and from once being one of the strongest sides in Asia, became one of the weakest in the world. At a time when a national league needs priority and patronage to promote and strengthen the domestic football structure, in the eyes of the PFF hierarchy it is a secondary event.

That is why they have replaced the PPL 2010 and have not only disturbed the footballing calendar of many domestic teams but also deprived thousands of fans and footballers who lived outside Karachi.

Now there is no time left to organise the national league this year, due to weather constraints in the northern parts of the country, and even if the PFF somehow manages to kick off the league in the last quarter of 2010, the event will only serve as filler, it will unlikely to pick up the momentum and bring spectators to the stadiums.

Four years ago the same local event badly failed to leave any impression and that was why it was discontinued abruptly. This year, despite the cash inflow, it failed to promote the sport again and has become an attractive and unproductive brand, widely criticised for the duration, unimpressive incentives, dull clashes and barren stadiums.

Football in Pakistan needs serious and sincere attention. The game’s popularity is increasing daily and at this juncture, a strong and popular domestic league can consolidate the structure of the game. Unfortunately the country’ football authorities are not ready to realise this fact.

M Wasim is a freelance football writer

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2010.

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