The last time Pakistan played an international football match or a domestic league, sponsored by Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), was back in March 2015; a match between Pakistan and Yemen that ended in a 0-0 draw. Almost two years have passed and Pakistan is still to play a PFF organised league or an international friendly. This has caused Pakistan’s Federation Internationale Football Association (FIFA) ranking to drop from 132 to 154, the lowest since creation. The conflicts in PFF have piled up, as the federation was split into two parties, one led by Fasial Saleh Hayat and the other by Hafiz Suleman Butt. For a long time, this conflict constantly stood in the way of any tournament that the national team wanted to take part in and it was inevitable that FIFA would take action against this ‘joke’. Football’s governing body eventually got tired of the issue and stopped funding PFF until its conflicts were resolved. Speaking exclusively with Daily Times, former Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) midfielder and Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) captain Syed Ghazi Khan said, “It is very sad that Pakistan is not taking part in any international tournaments and I think PFF is responsible. Till the federation sorts out its own problems, Pakistan won’t even play any domestic football –the official league or the challenge cup – let alone international matches.” Ghazi was annoyed by the PFF conflict, saying that Fasial Saleh Hayat and Hafiz Suleman Butt never thought about the betterment of the game. “Neither party in the PFF would receive funding from FIFA for organising any sort of tournament, nor would the Pakistani Football Team be allowed to participate in any international tournament and that is deeply saddening,” said Ghazi “If this goes on, just like hockey, football in Pakistan would also die. We have fallen way behind in our FIFA rankings and that not only affects the sport, but also the players as they feel insecure about their job,” the former ZTBL captain added. The players were denied a shot at the long-awaited international action when PFF withdrew from the AFC Solidarity Cup in November 2016. Pakistan also missed out on the SAFF Suzuki Cup, this time the Hayat group was at fault. With the news of the withdrawal, many players were left scratching their head, wondering if they would ever get the chance to fulfil their dream and represent their country. Talking to this scribe, former Pakistan international football player Muhammad Rasool said, “It is terrible that there is no football going on and just thinking about it makes me feel miserable. The lack of football in our country is not only affecting the FIFA ranking but the players are also suffering as no training is being held and the players are out of shape. A department recently organised a tournament, and it was evident that the players hadn’t trained as none of them looked at top of their game.” Rasool was the top scorer in multiple challenge cups and has been playing in Pakistan’s top departments since 2006. The former KRL star was not only concerned about the current Pakistan football team but also the youth, saying that even the youth of our country has to bear the consequences of this. The U-21, U-23, U-19, U-16 etc; all of them have not been going abroad to play matches either and that would eventually affect Pakistan for a long time. “All of this is happening because of the conflicts in PFF,” he said. When told that FIFA has stopped funding PFF, Rasool said, “Why would FIFA send funds when no events are being organised, nor is the team going abroad. No challenge cup or league was held last year. FIFA knew that PFF was to blame and stopped their funding.” Several departments, like ZTBL, have started to shut down their teams, feeling that it was a waste of their funds. With no league or challenge cup action, the departments paid a hefty amount for the sport and got nothing in return. That not only left several players unemployed, but also planted fear in the hearts of other players, dreading the worst for themselves with the slow disappearance of football. Former Pakistan football team captain Muhammad Esa Khan, talking exclusively with Daily Times, again blamed PFF for the rotting conditions of football. He said that the players were not being provided any facilities and football suffered due to that. “No league, no international matches, not even the youth leagues are being held and that is just depressing as, because of this, everything we earned in the past, everything we worked so hard for is going to waste. I watch football being annihilated and it hurts me because I too worked day and night for it. I can only see one culprit and that is PFF. Their conflict has obliterated football in Pakistan,” the former Pakistan captain said. Though, Esa did express some hope, saying that soon, PFF will sort out the issue and we would eventually get to watch football flourish in the country again. Esa went on to say, “We might even see the team go abroad in March 2017. But, it all depends on PFF and I hope they sort their mess out soon or the players will lose their jobs and the sport would die in the country.” Some players are optimistic, while some have lost all hope. The existence of football in Pakistan now depends on how quickly PFF resolves its conflicts.