This weekend football fans in Pakistan went into a frenzy as not one, not two, not even three but seven international players landed in the country to play exhibition matches. With Brazilian legend Ronaldinho and Manchester United’s Stalwart Ryan Giggs captaining the two teams, the roster also included a superstar lineup of former England goalkeeper David James, Dutch star George Boateng, former French players Robert Pires and Nicolas Anelka, and Portuguese player Luis Boa Morte came to Pakistan amidst high security and gave football fans something to go crazy about.
In a cricket obsessed nation, football is fast gaining popularity. With international sport halted because of the security conditions in Pakistan, big names (albeit retired) coming to the country signal a change in momentum. Possibly, this may not mean that the government will spend more on football stadiums or training, and it does not in any way help ‘promote’ football in the country – those who love football, will continue to love it, whether we get a chance to see our idols play in front of us.
But the fact that these players decided to come to Pakistan signals conditions are getting better. In 2009, after an attack on the Sri Lankan Cricket Team, the nation said goodbye to any sort of international sport coming to the country for years.
But with international cricket players coming to the country for Pakistan Super League in the beginning of the year and now this highly publicized match with football superstars will show the world that we are ready to welcome international sport back into the country.
A glimpse of the moment Ronaldinho entered the stadium and the crowd went INSANE. You had to be there to understand the love and madness football fans exhibited at that moment
— Ronaldinho Gaúcho (@10Ronaldinho) July 8, 2017