World Cup and the seriously pathetic state of football in Pakistan

With the World Cup all set to start off in Qatar later today, with 32 top squads in contention, we in Pakistan can at best take a look at the state of football in Pakistan. It is miserable on all counts. The two representations at what is touted as the greatest show on Earth will be the footballs made in Sialkot, and a contingent of Pakistan Army providing security at the event. Neither of them has anything to do with the state of the game in the country.

The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) had been suspended last year by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the global governing body, because of ‘third-party interference’ and a ‘hostile takeover’. The suspension was lifted earlier this year, but Pakistan football is yet to be put on track owing to bickering and power struggle among the officials.

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Football is more than just a sport at the global level, and there is no dearth of the lovers of the game or of those with actual playing talent. But the internal politics in the PFF is hampering the way of the players to showcase their talent, and the way of the lovers of the game to watch a game of an exciting football being played out in front of their very eyes. It is rather ironical that the body supposed to promote the game in the country is the biggest hurdle in this regard.

Apart from Karachi’s Lyari area, which has produced several celebrated footballers over the years, Balochistan, too, has a huge number of talented football players, who, if nurtured and trained professionally, are capable of winning laurels for the country.

We may not have the World Cup mascot La’eeb (image: courtesy: FIFA) — super-skilled player — among us, but we do have highly skilled players aplenty who need competitive exposure to cross over to the next category. But that exposure and the training needed for it to be sustained are the missing elements.

Will the players ever get a chance to even imagine about taking a shot at the World Cup? Even the rather rhetorical question sounds like a joke in the present scenario. And, that is unfortunate.

AFROZ M J

KECH

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