Football is the most popular type of sport in India. State of the football in India
Without any doubt, British football is the number one sport in India. The popularity and the passion people treat to football is phenomenal. Nevertheless, what is the state of football in India?
The national team is only 150th in the FIFA rankings. Now the development of football is to be promoted with another national league. That went wrong before.
The most powerful man in the sport himself provided the meaning of the subject. Back in 2007, FIFA President Joseph Blatter described India as the “sleeping giant” of world football and announced that he would not leave FIFA until football was properly established in the country.
Now relatively little has changed in the situation so far, but hope remains the 78-year-old Blatter recently announced that he would run for another term of office. Even if the development of football in India could hardly have been his main motivation. The prerequisites in the country with 1.2 billion inhabitants are actually positive.
With just over 20 million football players, India already has the third largest number of kickers in the world. Nevertheless, the Indian national team is currently only 150th in the world rankings and has never taken part in FIFA World Cup finals.
The placement is mainly due to the poor football infrastructure and strong competition from cricket, where India has one of the world’s best teams. Therefore, it is no coincidence that a lot of sponsorship money and the majority of government subsidies go to this sport. Nevertheless, football comes in second in the ranking of the most popular sports in India.
According to a study by AC Nielsen from 2010, 47 percent of the population describe themselves as football fans, i.e. over 500 million people. The problem: people’s purchasing power is still manageable. According to the World Bank, the gross domestic product per inhabitant was only 1100 euros in 2012.
This means that India falls significantly behind the other BRICS countries Brazil (8700 euros), China (4800), Russia (10,800) and South Africa (5800).
Nevertheless, those responsible still hope that the supposed sleeping football giant will actually wake up. A decisive development step is to be taken this year. The newly designed “Hero Indian Super League” (ISL) starts on October 12th. The aim of the league is to make football even better known throughout the country and to inspire many Indians for the sport, which is still new to them.
What maintains football in India?
The foundation stone for the ISL was laid in 2010 when the Indian Football Association (AIFF) acquired the complete commercial football rights (sponsorship, advertising, franchising, media presence, broadcasting and the right for new leagues) for 15 years and almost 90 million euros to IMG Reliance submitted. It is a joint venture between the International Management Group (IMG) and Reliance Industries, the largest Indian company active in the petrochemicals and textiles sectors. Actually, you read about ISL and other popular sport leagues of India at https://bettingking.in/
Since then, IMG Reliance has been trying bit by bit to make football better known in India. The greatest effort in this regard is certainly the newly established ISL.
Eight teams compete against each other within just two months, and the four best-placed teams then play out the champions in knockout mode. The rights to the individual clubs were auctioned – with many different people and companies bidding. Bollywood actors, cricket stars, businessmen and European clubs such as Atletico Madrid and AC Florence now belong to the owners.
But they all have to be persistent, as Kushal Das, Secretary General of the Indian Football Association, frankly admits. Speaking at the Soccerex Global Convention recently, he said: “Indeed, it is likely to be difficult to make money in Indian football in the next five years. But the potential is so huge that you will forget the income statement for some time should.” There is still little to be seen of the potential.
In mid-September, one month before the start of the season, only two of the eight self-marketing clubs had found a main sponsor. The jersey chest should be available for the equivalent of 630,000 euros, while the back costs 380,000 euros. The Hero Motor Group has secured the rights as title sponsor of the ISL for eight million euros for three years, but six “Associate Sponsor” rights (2nd level) are still vacant. The packages should cost around 1.1 million euros per year.
So far, only Puma has signed, and Coca-Cola is also interested. A big problem when selling the rights is the very high prices set in order to position the ISL as a premium product. As a comparison, IMG Reliance used the prices of the cricket league IPL, which has been successful for years. In addition, there are no benchmarks in the first season, so that many interested companies are still holding back.
After all: the TV contract should help with the marketing. The station group Star India, which belongs to Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, has acquired a 30 percent stake in the IMG Reliance joint venture and has secured the media rights for ten years.
Star India has 33 channels in eight languages, each ISL game is to be broadcast live on eight free TV channels in parallel. In addition, Star Sports has a high presence in South and Southeast Asia, so that the ISL is also broadcast live abroad.
In addition to the lack of short- and medium-term refinancing, there are other areas of tension for the ISL. A big one is the fact that with the I-League there is already a first soccer league in India, whose clubs are of course not happy about the new competition. Those responsible for the club ask themselves why so much money is invested in the development of a new league instead of pooling skills and resources and developing a joint product.
The estimated expenditure for the first season of the ISL is 75 million euros. The prize money in the ISL is eleven times higher than in the I-League. However, because the I-League only plays from January to May, the ISL is not a direct competitor with its October to December period. Especially since such shortened, league models in India have already been carried out in other sports such as cricket and hockey in the past and have been accepted with great success by the population.
What is the mark of instability of the football in India?
In addition, the ISL has chosen a different strategic approach and is rather a league that is played across India. Completely different from the I-League, in which the 13 clubs come from just five cities, including four clubs from Goa and three from Kolkata. This distribution is no coincidence, as football in India is only popular in individual regions.
The population of the former Portuguese colony Goa or the former capital of British India, Kolkata, is one of the truly football-crazy types. Over 120,000 spectators regularly attend the biggest derby in Kolkata. In the next game, however, it is not infrequently only 500 when the club plays against a team from Goa, for example. It will be interesting to see whether the ISL can both transfer interest in football to other cities and create the previously missing emotional bond between fans and clubs.
In addition, the arena size range is extremely large with 22,000 to 120,000 seats. And not all arenas are in good condition, the club owners have already invested a good six million euros in the renovation in a first step.
Experts who predict a difficult future for the ISL like to point out the fact that a similar league failed a few years ago. The Celebrity Management Group tried to set up a similar franchise model in 2011: the Bengal Premier League Soccer (PLS). Prominent players such as Fabio Cannavaro, Hernan Crespo and Robert Pires have also been signed here.
In early February 2012 it was finally announced that the start of the PLS would be postponed indefinitely.
And in January 2013 the project was finally abandoned. The reasons given by those responsible gave financial and logistical problems, uncertainties regarding the stadium occupancy and the cancellation of many international top stars. In addition, the Indian football association AIFF was not brought on board.
A similar fate was on the horizon for the ISL. The kick-off date had to be postponed several times. The original start date was planned for January 2014, and then September was targeted.
The start of the league on October 12, 2014 has now been officially confirmed. As in the last attempt, several experienced players from Europe will be there again, including Robert Pires, David Trezeguet and Nicolas Anelka. In the three months, you will earn $ 750,000 (about 580,000 euros). The best paid coach is Zico with a salary of around 380,000 euros. The other foreign professionals besides the so-called “Marquee Player”, the club’s figurehead, will receive an estimated 54,000 euros for the season.
Overall, the salary costs per club should amount to around 1.8 million euros. Expenses that are at least not refinanced in the short term. Therefore, patience is required from the owners. Another cancellation for football in India would be difficult to cope with. After all, the ISL organizers set the qualification of the national team for the 2026 FIFA World Cup as a long-term goal. The Indian Football Association would like to see this goal achieved by the 2022 World Cup. Therefore, time is running out.
Future and general potential of Indian football
India is THE land of contrasts. While half the population lives on less than a dollar a day, there is an affluent middle class of 200 million and roughly $ 160,000 millionaires. The British bank Barclays estimated in 2008 that the number of Indian millionaires would quadruple in the next ten years and it looks like this forecast is spot on. A big problem that also affects football is the lack of infrastructure. In the Indian I-League, it happens repeatedly that games are canceled at short notice because the stadiums are double occupied. The reporting in the domestic media can be expanded, even the table positions are only updated irregularly in the Indian newspapers.
In the search for a new technical director, the Indian Football Association almost hired Josep Guardiola’s mentor. The 45-year-old Juan Manuel Lillo was considered to be the most promising candidate and his engagement in India seemed a done deal. At the end of the negotiations, astronomical salary demands and a lack of English skills turned out to be an insurmountable obstacle, so that the search for an expert continues. Juan Manuel Lillo is considered to be the inventor of the modern 4-2-3-1 system and has had a significant impact on the successful style that his former player and friend Josep Guardiola is pulling through in Barcelona. Lillo could have led the Indian Football Association in a new direction and Indian football fans must now hope that a visionary of his caliber will be signed.
The authors of the bestseller “Soccernomics” claim in their book that is more than readable that there are three factors that determine the long-term success of a national team: the number of inhabitants, the gross national income and the experience.
In terms of population, India is still behind China, but is steadily catching up and is expected to be number one in 2025. In 2009, India was ranked twelfth in the world for gross national income. In the past few years, the transition from a socialist to a liberal economic policy made itself felt and accelerated economic growth. Despite good prospects, India will have to invest a lot of money in the infrastructure in the next few years and fight the high level of corruption. The Indian Football Association will have to compensate for the lack of experience with imports from abroad. At least two of the three factors promise India an excellent future.