High-powered delegation including Michael Owen in Pakistan for PFL launch

The three-day visit commenced on June 3 from Islamabad

June 03, 2024
Michael Owen pictured with players of the local school. - AUTHOR

LONDON: Some of the biggest names in world football have reached Pakistan for the formal launch of the Pakistan Football League (PFL) on 4th June in Lahore.

Football stars and football executives from the UK, Italy, Spain, the USA and Portugal have confirmed their participation in the launch event. Pakistan High Commission in London said it had issued over a dozen visas for the event.

The high-powered delegation is led by the likes of Michael Owen, a retired English footballer known for his goal-scoring prowess, notably playing for Liverpool, Real Madrid, and the English national team.

Emile Heskey, a former English footballer for clubs like Leicester City, Liverpool, and Aston Villa. Pascal Chimbonda, a professional French NT player who played also with English Premier League with Tottenham Hotspurs, Wigan Athletic and Sunderland; and Raúl Rodríguez, a former Central Defender from Espanyol in Spanish LaLiga in 2010.

Soon after landing in Pakistan on Monday, the star players visited Red Oak High, ISSC Campus; Roots Millenium Group of Collages and attended meetings with ministers. Owen also played football with the children at a local school.

Others in the delegation include Steve Wood, who oversees Michael Owen's global commercial activities; Adrian Bevington, a prominent English football’s most experienced senior Executive; Michael Knighton, a well-regarded English businessman who sat on the board of Manchester United; Carlo Mastellone, a former Italian footballer; Adolfo Guerro Gunther, Club Atletico de Madrid International Expansion Manager since 2016.

Amando Moreno, a football director from Spain and has worked with Rafa Benitez; Davide Gomes, who served as the head coach of Benfica's reserve team, Benfica B; Luis Miguel De Sousa Santos Reis, a retired Brazilian footballer; Gustavo Amador Moure, a seasoned legal professional; Adrián Varela, President of International Relations at CA River Plate.

Wilson Lotutala, the Marketing Director at FC Basel; Chris Kaufmann, the CEO of FC Basel 1893; Paul-David Matthias Erne, head of Recruitment at FC Lous Club in Major League Soccer, USA; Michael John Farnan, a British entrepreneur and the co-founder of Redstrike; Simon Bytheway, a senior executive at Redstrike; Glen Morgan and Ait-Ali Rabah.

Sports journalists Alison Jane Bender, best known for her work with Sky Sports, Chelsea TV and Real Madrid TV; Jim White, a veteran sports writer with The Telegraph; and Gary Stonehouse, a seasoned sports journalist for The Sun.

PFL Chairman Farhan Junejo, whose PFL UK Holdings is organising the event, said the launch event will see the highest profile football delegates present in Pakistan in such numbers.

“Pakistan has welcomed the football professionals with open arms. This shows the potential of football and the global interest in Pakistani football. The first professional kick-off in this league will give a new meaning to the lives of many young aspiring children. My gift of distributing 100,000 footballs to Pakistan is to provide a ball to a child who wants to play football. PFL will be the driving force of reviving the next generation of future football stars," he commented.

“We have signed deals with a club in Portugal to send 100 children to Lisbon every year to train with some of the best professionals. My dream is for Pakistani youth to go abroad on private jets and not through the dangerous routes.”

The three-day visit commenced on June 3 from the capital city Islamabad before heading to Lahore for the official unveiling on June 4 before concluding in Karachi - The City of Lights. A series of high-profile meetings was scheduled with top brass officials plus a football carnival in Kakri Football Stadium, Lyari to recognise the unsung heroes of Pakistan’s football.

Farhan Junejo said the football professionals will meet with the senior military and political leadership.