Former English footballer Michael Owen appointed ambassador of Pakistan Football League

Michael Owen plans to visit Pakistan soon; says establishing a professional football league a "step in the right direction"

Faizan Lakhani

  • Michael Owen plans to visit Pakistan soon.
  • Teams from six cities will participate in football league.
  • Former footballer says establishing a professional football league is a "step in the right direction".

KARACHI: Former English footballer Michael Owen has been appointed as the ambassador of the newly announced franchised-based Pakistan Football League.

The former footballer also shared a message on Twitter for Pakistani fans.

"Salam Pakistan! I'm absolutely delighted to announce that I'm the new Pakistan Football League (The PFL) Ambassador and I hope to be visiting Pakistan soon! Hope you all are ready! Football hoga!" he wrote.

Soon after the announcement, the former Liverpool legend spoke exclusively to Geo News in which he shared his thoughts on interest for football in Pakistan and if the football World Cup was held every two years.

The 41-year-old legend stated that franchise-based football league is a step in the right direction for development of football in the country.

“It's very exciting that professional football is about to be launched in Pakistan. A country that has 220 million people has a lot to offer for a successful league and a successful national team in the future.

“Of course, those blocks have got to be built slowly and sustainably. But I do think that it was about time that Pakistan had its own league football. Obviously, the league needs to be run in the right way for improvement, to bring excitement, and to be sustainable as well,” he said.

When asked what steps Pakistan needs to take to improve football standards, the former World Cupper highlighted that the country must have a league, professional players, and something that the fans are going to get behind.

“And, once you have that, then you can start looking at finer details, you can start looking at academies. And of course, that the more you play, the better you get. The higher the standard you get to, the more you try to compete with the next standard,” he said.

“Pakistan aren't going to be world champions in the next 10 years but you never know. In 15, 20 years, if the right things are put into place and hopefully Pakistan with their manpower, as I say 220 million, it may happen that Pakistan could be more competitive than they currently are on the world stage,” he hinted.

Owen confirmed the PFL’s announcement that he will be coming to Pakistan soon. The organisers earlier said that the former England player is scheduled to visit Pakistan to run a series of football master classes and formally unveil the PFL. The dates for kick off and a full league schedule will be released soon.

“Of course, I will be visiting. There's no question about that. We hoped actually that I could visit already but of course due to the pandemic, we have to delay it slightly. I'm not sure exactly what dates, but I will be coming over,” he said.

“I'm very excited to be here, to be part of the Pakistan Football League. I hope the fans are very excited about it too. I follow cricket a lot and I see the passion that the people have for sport over there in Pakistan. I'm pretty sure that there will be a big following of football as well. I also know that the Premier League is very popular in Pakistan so there will be a huge interest,” he said.

Replying to a question, Owen said that the idea of having a FIFA World Cup every two years will support teams like Pakistan.

“I'm part of the FIFA panel that is discussing the idea. I can see the pros, I can see the cons. Of course, traditionalists prefer to stick to how it is — every four years. The other argument is that football is supposed to be inclusive. And it's very difficult for smaller nations to be part of any World Cup. I mean, it's the same type of teams every four years and FIFA would like to include far more teams and give them far better chances to qualify,” he said.

“I can certainly see the arguments for both sides, but for a country like Pakistan, I'm sure a World Cup every two years would certainly see the standard grow quite naturally. The World Cup every two years is something that that should really play into the hands of a country like Pakistan,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Football League and its organisers Global Sports Ventures said that Owen will take the reins of Pakistan football to help devise a strategic partnership programme by uniting the nation with the might of football in England.

“Owen will reveal the PFL logo from the home of football in England in October. He is scheduled to visit Pakistan to run a series of football master classes and formally unveil the PFL. The dates for kick off and a full league schedule will be released soon,” a statement said.