KARACHI: Top male and female footballers of the country have expressed excitement on the announcement that the original 2018 FIFA World Cup trophy, which was once lifted by Maradona and kissed by Ronaldo, will arrive in Pakistan next month.
“A delegation of 16 Pakistanis, including representatives from media, sponsors, top celebrities and members of Pakistan National Football Team, will join the tour in Chiang Mai, Thailand to receive the FIFA World Cup Trophy and bring it to Lahore,” said Rizwan U Khan, of the company that is bringing the trophy to Pakistan. “The trophy will be in Pakistan for a day and will be unveiled for the media and thousands of football fans at the Coke Fest in Lahore.”
Football activities in Pakistan have been stagnant due to suspension of Pakistan Football Federation from FIFA. The suspension was once a hindrance to the arrival of trophy in Pakistan, as per claims made by PPF. However, the official sponsor of FIFA trophy tour, Coca Cola, has brushed aside all doubts and hindrances, confirming that the trophy would arrive in Pakistan on February 3.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour kicked off in September 2017 in Russia. It will visit more than 50 countries across six continents, travelling 126,000 kilometres in the nine months leading up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The global phase of the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy Tour will start in London, United Kingdom on January 22. The trophy will then be taken to more than 50 countries before the tour finished in Tokyo, Japan on April 30.
In May 2018 the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy Tour will return to Russia for a final tour of the host country.
According to officials, the trophy will be in Pakistan on February 3, for a duration of less than 24 hours.
For Pakistani football devotees, the visit of the FIFA World Cup Trophy is just the beginning. The inclusion of Pakistan in the tour offers a much needed boost to the fans and football fraternity.
According to Pakistan’s Women Team captain Hajra Khan it is a very exciting step in the right direction. “I am not really sure when Pakistan will be able to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, but it is truly amazing to see the trophy is coming to Pakistan,” she said.
“This is great initiative which will hopefully bring the game out of the difficult times it currently finds itself in.”
Pakistan’s international player Kaleemullah agreed with Hajra. “This is a historic moment for everyone related to football in Pakistan,” he said.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy is made of solid gold and weighs 6.142 kilogrammes. The current design dates back to 1974.
The original trophy, set to arrive in Pakistan, was lifted by Argentine footballer Diego Maradona, held and kissed by the Brazilian legend Ronaldo and it can only be touched and held by a very select group of people that includes former winners of the FIFA World Cup and heads of state.
The sources, meanwhile, have confirmed to Geo.tv that there will be at least two events in Lahore one will be an exclusive display and other will be for public.
When asked, an official said there is a strong possibility of a surprise visit by a former world cup winner along with the trophy to Lahore.
“I can’t reveal much details, but there can be a surprise,” the official said.