KARACHI: Frustrated by the teams’ withdrawal from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) under-14 festival, the country’s federation has registered an official complaint against Iran.
The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi has termed Iran’s decision ‘most disappointing’ and termed its reason to skip the tournament as the weakest excuse for backing out two days before the event.
Uzbekistan pulled out of the event due to financial issues, while Kyrgyzstan failed to send their players due to their parents’ refusal. However, Iran’s excuse, which was based on ‘inconvenience’ that they would face while waiting for a connecting flight, has irked the PFF.
“Pakistan will not participate in any tournament in Iran,” Lodhi told The Express Tribune. “I’ve written a letter to the AFC and I’m expecting them to hand Iran a heavy penalty. We’ve always participated in tournaments in Iran.
“Last year we waited for 12 hours in Abu Dhabi but we never complained because we wanted to stick to our promise. However, what Iran has done is very unprofessional. They’re sending two of their referees to attend the under-14 festival referee workshops and not the team.”
According to Lodhi, the teams that refused to tour Pakistan will be questioned by the AFC. The festival, originally scheduled to feature six countries, is now taking place with Afghanistan, Tajikistan and two teams from Pakistan as the participants with the workshops having begun on April 5. The tournament starts on April 11.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2012.
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