Organizers of a series of charity soccer games featuring former French superstar Zinedine Zidane, say the cross-Canada tour has been "plagued with challenges.''

On July 4th, the 37-year-old ball wizard was scheduled to play in a charity game at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver in front of about 8,000 spectators.

But Zidane was forced to pull out of that game after he strained a back muscle while playing with his son at the Canada Day celebrations. The game has since been re-scheduled and will now be played at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby on July 12.

The Swangard game will wrap of a charity tour that has featured stops in Toronto and Montreal, where a team called "Zidane & Friends,'' played against local all-stars.

Organizers say they are delighted that a player of Zidane's stature agreed to give up his time to come to Canada and help promote soccer in this country.

But they are disappointed that professional teams and officials across the country have not come forward to embrace the "Zidane & Friends" tour and help to promote it.

"We have had no positive support from people who are supposed to be doing that,'' said Ahcene Adlani, the Burnaby-based promoter of the charity series. "Lots of people didn't know that this was happening.''

That view was echoed by the organizer of a soccer camp in East Vancouver, which was set up on July 3rd to give underprivileged children the chance to meet Zidane and see him demonstrate his considerable ball skills.

Carrie Serwetnyk said she expected "thousands of people" to show up at the Britannia Oval to see the former Real Madrid player sign autographs and show off his skills. But the event attracted a crowd of about 150, including the 100 kids who were chosen to participate.

"It's too bad because this was a once in a lifetime opportunity,'' said Serwetnyk, adding that Zidane is one of the richest athletes in the world. "He didn't need to be here,'' she said.

Still, if the turnout was lower than expected, Zidane managed to impress some of event planners who were there when he arrived. "I thought he was lovely,'' said Michelle Barile, Executive Director of the Commercial Drive Business Society. "He was really social, and very friendly with the kids.''

"I thought he was a really handsome man,'' Serwetnyk said.

After the visit to Britannia Oval, Zidane took his family down to Los Angeles, where he is scheduled to meet with David Beckham, a former team mate at Real Madrid.

Prior to jetting off to California, Zidane offered to try and recruit Beckham for the re-scheduled charity game in Vancouver on July 12. But Adlani said he had to reject that offer. "He [Beckham] would be too expensive,'' Adlani said.