Former international footballer Luís Figo expresses confidence
At a moment when confidence seems a short commodity, former Portugal international footballer Luís Figo has come up with a lot of it. He believes Portugal’s national men’s team’s chances of winning the 2022 to be held in Qatar shortly are good – and he is confident that Portugal’s joint bid with Spain to hold the 2030 World Cup will be successful.
Talking at the Football Talks forum in Oeiras near Lisbon yesterday, the official ambassador for the national men’s team said: “I think Portugal have one of the best national teams in the world. Success in a World Cup or a European Championship depends on many factors, not only on individual and collective quality, but I have every hope that Portugal, after a more complicated qualification, will be able to express their full value and achieve their goals, which are to reach the final and win the World Cup.”
In the group stage of the World Cup finals in Qatar, Portugal are to face Ghana on 24 November, Uruguay on 28 November and South Korea, coached by Portugal’s own Paulo Bento, on 2 December. The event is to run from 20 November to 18 December.
Figo, who played for Sporting, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan, praised the abilities of Portugal’s captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, despite his current difficulties at Manchester United.
“I have no doubts about the quality, delivery and professionalism of Cristiano,” he said. “I’m sure he will perform at the World Cup in the best possible conditions and I think Portugal can be relaxed about what he can give to the national team.”
The United forward was cited by Figo as one of the possible faces for a campaign to promote Portugal abroad, during a conference that also featured former professional basketball player Ticha Penicheiro, Porto city councillor Catarina Araújo, the president of Portugal’s national tourist board, Luís Araújo, and Paulo Salgado, of the University of the Minho, in northern Portugal.
“I think we have some of the best sportsmen and women in the world, with a historical dimension that reaches all parts of the world,” said Figo. “We have a brand and some values that go along with the greatness of these sportsmen and women, but I think it’s an idea. I miss having the promotion of our country, globally, with national values.”
Speaking in the mixed zone at the Cidade do Futebol, in Oeiras, Figo said that he shared the confidence expressed earlier this week by the Slovenian president of UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin, in the success of the joint Iberian bid to host the 2030 World Cup.
“If the UEFA president is confident, I have to be too,” he said. “Not only because I am Portuguese, but because Portugal and Spain have already proven they can successfully host major sporting events. Organising the World Cup is a privilege, in terms of image and promotion it is extremely positive for the country”.
The former footballer was also asked about the repercussions of the documentary ‘The Figo Affair: The Transfer that Changed Football’ but said that he had not changed his point of view.
“I lived it, so I don’t feel differently,” he said. “Whoever didn’t live it, whoever criticised or praised it, may have a different point of view, but my feeling is the same as it was twenty-two years ago.”
Football Talks ended on Tuesday, the second day of a forum based on themes related to the five pillars identified in the strategic plan of the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) for the period to 2030: Childhood and Growth, Football for All, Quality of Play, Involvement and Ecosystem Sustainability.