October 27, 2011

Pakistan cricket

Football scores in Pakistan

Jayaditya Gupta

Here’s a googly Pakistan cricket can do without: football is casting its eyes on the space all but abdicated by top-flight cricket in the country. Manchester United, the world’s largest football club, has signed a partnership deal with Zong, one of Pakistan’s largest mobile-phone companies, to supply exclusive content to its subscribers. It’s a deal similar to those Manchester United has in many countries but it’s the first time top-level football has moved towards what has always been seen as a cricket and hockey country.

"Ten years ago, the football market was small, the game was dying,” the Daily Telegraph quoted Rizwan Akhter, Zong's director of advertising and promotions, as saying. "But over the past few years, things have changed. Every other person, especially in urban areas, is associated with one club or another … Most of the cricket fans are football followers as well. And the primary reason for the increase in the popularity of football is the demise and turmoil in cricket."

The huge advantage, Akhter says, is that in Pakistan – as in neighbouring India – top European football is available on TV almost free. Maybe the Pakistan football team will have better luck with its keepers than the cricket team has of late.

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Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo in India

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