LAHORE: Football superstars Ricardo Kaka and Luis Figo have termed their first ever visit Pakistan as remarkable saying they were here to promote world’s largest playing game football.
Both the superstars arrived in Lahore on Thursday night to officially kick off the World Soccer Stars series 2019 to be played in April. They first landed on Thursday at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on a day-long visit via a chartered plane from the UAE and then proceeded to northeastern Lahore city after a brief stay.
They met football-crazy fans on late Thursday evening at Packages Mall and assured them of promoting football in Pakistan. Two matches will be played between the two teams comprising former and current international stars and local footballers in Karachi and Lahore in April. Kaka and Figo will lead their respective teams. Kaka and Figo were attired in white sports shirts and caps and they were flashing victory signs as they were welcomed by the local officials and football fans at the airport.
Both the football legends were accorded warm welcome by the lively Lahorites. “We are here for football development. This country has a huge potential waiting to emerge into the international scene,” Figo said. “I advise the youngsters, who want to pursue football as a career, to work hard to achieve your target. You must take advantage of this event,” he added.
When asked to comment on the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) decision to increase the number of teams from 32 to 48 for the next world cup, Figo said, “More teams mean more opportunities for football playing nations to participate in the World Cup. It will also generate more money for the development of the sport. But In terms of quality, I don’t know it is better or not, but let’s try first.”
Replying to the same question, Kaka said, “We have to try. It will work or not, we will see. More teams mean more money. I think it is a good opportunity for more countries to be part of the event.” The Real Madrid stars are scheduled to train the young footballers, in addition to playing the two-match series, during their five-day stay in Karachi and Lahore.
The two legends have been brought by a UK-based player and event management company that had also arranged the visit of Brazilian star Ronaldinho, his 2002 World Cup winning teammate, Roberto Carlos, former French midfielder Robert Pires, France’s Nicolas Anelka, Portugal’s Luis Boa Morte, Holland’s George Boateng, England’s David James and former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs in 2017.
Fans baffled as Liverpool star Mohamed Salah goes offline
CAIRO: Fans were left baffled on Wednesday after Liverpool’s star Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah appeared to have deleted all of his social media accounts where his followers number in the millions.
The Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts of Salah, who is idolised in Egypt and Liverpool, went offline without warning a day after he posted a cryptic tweet.
“2019 Resolution: Time to get in touch, for real,” said the final tweet, screenshots of which were shared widely on social media.
Those navigating to his Twitter account on Wednesday could only see a message reading “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”.
On Instagram, the message read “The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed.” A similar message appeared on Facebook.
It was not immediately clear whether the shutdowns were deliberate.
Spain to help China develop football
MADRID: La Liga and China’s Super League on Friday signed an accord to “make Chinese football grow throughout the world.”
“We are going to learn from La Liga as much about developing young players as about promoting our brand,” Dong Zheng, the general secretary of the Chinese league told a press conference in Madrid.
“I hope that with the help of La Liga, the Chinese Super League can become a premier league at the Asian and even the World level,” said Zheng.
The agreement is for four years and covers the sport as well as the organization and financial controls.
Chinese professional football said Javier Tebas, the Liga president, “is looking to organize as we do in the biggest leagues in the world.”
“We will work together on strategies of financial oversight, one of the concerns of Chinese football with the increasing influx of a lot of private investment,” Tebas added.
In the last five years, La Liga has applied rigorous economic controls including, cleaning up club accounting and centralizing the sale of TV rights.
The agreement also includes collaboration in marketing and digital development, in which “we will try to share experiences and make Chinese football grow all over the world,” Tebas said, who added that the project could help fulfill the ambitions of Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who once said he wants to see China win the World Cup.
“If we work in Chinese professional soccer, in a strong Chinese league, we contribute to the dreams of the Chinese president of being able to organize a World Cup in China, qualify for a World Cup and, one day, win the World Cup,” said Tebas.
Messi scores 400th La Liga goal for Barcelona
BARCELONA: Lionel Messi scored his 400th goal in La Liga against Eibar on Sunday to extend his record as the division’s all-time top scorer.
Messi collected the ball off Luis Suarez and drove it into the bottom corner in the 53rd minute at Camp Nou to give Barca a 2-0 lead over Eibar and notch his quadruple century after 435 matches.
It is 14 years since the 31-year-old Argentine scored his first La Liga goal and he has gone on to build an enormous lead at the top of the league’s all-time scoring chart.
Cristiano Ronaldo remains the second highest scorer with 311 goals in 292 games while Spain’s Telmo Zarra is third with 251 goals in 278 games.
Messi has finished top scorer in La Liga five times. He has 17 goals already this season.