Legends of the game, footballers Ronaldinho and Ryan Giggs returned from Pakistan on Sunday night, expressing surprise at the "passion" for the game in a cricket-crazy country. The two footballers were in Pakistan on a two-day visit with five other international stars to play in two exhibition matches in Karachi and Lahore organized by the Leisure League.
"I think the security was excellent and we thought that Pakistan was only a cricket loving nation but after our visit we know they are as passionate about football as well," Ronaldinho said through an interpreter in Lahore.
While the security arrangements for the footballers stay in Pakistan and the matches were manned by the Pakistan Army but the other organizational aspects of the matches came in for some criticism on the social media.
Pakistani cricketers, Azhar Ali and Hasan Ali, who visited the Fortress Stadium Lahore for the second match on Sunday, said the arrangements could have been better.
Leisure League and World Group of Companies put on sale ticket ranging from 2000 to 30,000 Pakistani rupees with many people complaining they couldn't get into the stadium in Karachi and then in Lahore due to organizational hassles.
Pakistan has been deprived off major international sporting events ever since terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka cricket team bus in Lahore in 2009.
Different sports bodies have made attempts to invite international players and teams to Pakistan including the Pakistan Cricket Board but with marginal success.
Giggs, the former Manchester United great, too was surprised at the passion for football in Pakistan.
"I was surprised by the love and passion the Pakistani people have for football and I see they have interesting talent as well which only needs proper grooming and coaching," he said.