Figo, Kaka seek ‘promise’ of football in cricket-mad Pakistan


Portuguese great Luis Figo (L) and Brazilian star Ricardo Kaka (R) were in Pakistan as part of the World Soccer Stars tour.

KARACHI, January 10: Portuguese great Luis Figo and Brazilian star Kaka on Thursday vowed to help develop the “great promise” of football in Pakistan, a country obsessed with cricket and twice banned from international soccer.
The two legends — who both played for Spanish club Real Madrid — are in Pakistan for a day-long visit as part of the World Soccer Stars tour, aimed at grooming nascent talent through exhibition matches and coaching clinics.
The 2000 Ballon d’Or winner Figo, wielding a cricket bat in a nod to the game’s popularity in Pakistan, told reporters in the southern port city of Karachi that he was “excited” to be there.
“There is a great promise of football in Pakistan so we are here to help develop the game,” said Figo, who also played for Barcelona before retiring in 2009.
Kaka, himself carrying a cricket ball, said the pair were “committed” to promoting football globally.
“We … have a good impression of Pakistan,” added the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner, who also played for AC Milan and retired in 2017.
Pakistan boasted a top 10 place in Asian football until the early 1970s, but a lack of government support and poor infrastructure have seen them sink to 199 in the FIFA rankings.
Pakistan was banned in 1995 and again in 2017 over violating FIFA’s rule that all federations must be free of any government and judicial interference in their respective countries. (AFP)