KARACHI: The football event in the 13th National Games will be held in Islamabad after the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) opted to include the sport in the event to be held from December 25.
Football, together with hockey, was earlier excluded from the list of disciplines due to security fears after protests from the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) following hockey’s inclusion forced the POA to reconsider the sport’s fate.
“The POA had its concerns about the security of the outdoor games and hence we had excluded them to begin with but everything changed once hockey team won gold in China,” the POA President Arif Hasan told The Express Tribune. “We haven’t been unfair to anyone but they have to understand that we can’t organise such events on a whim as we need to prepare for it.
“It became impossible for us to exclude hockey after their performance in the Asian Games and we needed some time to speak to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Olympic Association to correspond with us on this matter.”
According to Hasan, the POA was mainly concerned with the security of the players and the spectators but now that the PFF has spoken on the issue, they have decided to hold the football event in the capital.
The PFF has named six teams for the event that includes Wapda, Army, Navy, Pakistan Air Force, Railways and Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa. While Hasan says football was not included due to the security reasons, PFF Secretary Ahmed Yar Lodhi explained that the POA had told the PFF that the team’s poor performance in the Asian Games had forced the decision.
“We were told several times that since we did not win any medal, we didn’t deserve a place in the National Games,” said Lodhi. “We simply argued that if medals matter the most then why are games like swimming and athletics included when the contingents for these disciplines were not even sent to the Asian Games.”
He added that it was only after PFF President Faisal Saleh Hayat’s press conference that the POA reconsidered its decision. The PFF chief insisted in the press conference last week that the football community would protest if the game is ignored.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2010.
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