Michael Owen inaugurates Karachi Football Stadium


English football legend Michael Owen laid the foundations of a football stadium at a university in Karachi on Wednesday.

Owen is on a three-day visit to Pakistan to promote football in the cricket-mad country. A large crowd of students, teachers and football fans attended the ceremony at the NED University of Engineering and Technology.

The pitch, according to a statement from the university, will be built to European Football Association infrastructure standards.

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Addressing the ceremony, Owen, who played for Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United during his illustrious career, said he was amazed by Pakistanis’ passion for the sport.

Pakistan, he said, is a wonderful country for football, expressing his joy at being part of the “historic” transformation of the sport in the country.

The best player of the year 2001 will attend the inaugural ceremony of the seventh edition of the Pakistani Super League at the National Stadium in Karachi on Thursday.

He will also visit the Lyari Town district of Karachi, commonly known as “mini Brazil” for its inhabitants’ passion for football.

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Owen also met with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Rawalpindi on Tuesday, according to a statement from the army’s media wing.

The former player signed a three-year deal last September to become the official Pakistan Football League (PFL) ambassador to groom talent in the South Asian country.

Football is a popular sport in Pakistan, where cricket otherwise dominates, especially in rural areas. Still, the national team is ranked 200th in the FIFA World Rankings.

Lacking in glamor and government funding, while having to contend with intra-federation schisms and a land-grabbing petty mafia that has swept the playing fields, football in Pakistan has gradually declined from its former rank of fourth on the Asian continent in the 1960s.

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