KARACHI: Brazil’s Ronaldinho, England’s David James and Dutch star George Boateng will be among seven top former players to feature in exhibition games in Pakistan in July, organisers said Friday. The games are part of plans to build on the ‘comfort zone’ from the successful staging of the Pakistan Super League final in Lahore earlier this month. Pakistan had been mostly off limits for foreign sports teams since terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team’s bus in 2009. The former football players are being brought to the country by the UK-based Leisure Leagues – organisers of 5, 6 and 7-a-side tournaments which recently announced plans to expand to Pakistan. Ishaq Shah, chief operating officer of Leisure Leagues Pakistan, said the stars would play exhibition games alongside local players selected from Leisure Leagues in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. “There is no doubt the staging of the PSL has provided a comfort zone and the visit of these foreign stars will rebrand Pakistan as hub of sports,” said Shah, who did not name the other four foreign players. Pakistan sporting greats including cricket’s Javed Miandad backed the plans, with Miandad saying he was honoured to be an ambassador for the league. “Football is the most popular sport in the world and in my playing days I used to follow Newcastle United so once this game is popular in Pakistan people will forget cricket,” said Miandad, who promised a cricket lesson to Ronaldinho and the other foreign players. The recently retired 36-year-old legend Ronaldinho, who won the World Player of the Year twice and was part of the 2002 World Cup winning team, issued a short video message on Twitter saying simply “Pakistan, I am coming” as he unfurled Pakistan’s flag. James, who counts Liverpool and Manchester City as clubs he played for during his career, last played for Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters in 2014. Boateng, played for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough in the Premier League, is currently director at Malaysian club Kelantan FA. News of Ronaldinho’s visit has generated excitement among fans, and comes as the South Asian nation seeks to revive international sports fixtures that were disrupted in 2009. Cricket-obsessed Pakistan has a strong base of football fans and players, particularly in southwestern Balochistan and the southern city of Karachi. But its national team has struggled in recent decades and has fallen to a lowly 198th place in the FIFA rankings. Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) officials were involved in court wrangling against each other for the last two years, forcing the men’s and women’s teams out of international competitions. The Lahore High Court last month decided in favour of recognising Faisal Saleh Hayat as the national football federation’s chief, a post he has held on-and-off since 2003 without being able to turn around the team’s fortunes. Earlier this month, Spanish giants Barcelona announced their former star would return to act as an ambassador for the club.