Companies betting on soccer in India
December 10th, 2010
12:45 AM ET

Companies betting on soccer in India

India’s achievements on the world soccer stage would be considered meager for any country, let alone for the planet’s second-most populous nation. India has never played in a World Cup, and its men's national team is ranked 142nd by FIFA. The Faroe Islands, home to 49,000 people, are 11 spots ahead of the country of 1.2 billion.

Truth is, India’s athletes and sports fans have been more drawn to cricket. But two companies are betting that the country is a slumbering giant of a soccer market.

Reliance Industries, India’s largest private-sector firm, and sports and entertainment company IMG Worldwide have bought the commercial rights to soccer in India and will develop and run a new professional league in the country, India’s soccer federation announced Thursday.

The two-company venture, IMG Reliance, will pay $156 million for the 15-year deal, the Financial Times reported.

“This is India’s biggest attempt ever to scale up the game in a country where the dominant sport is cricket,” Kushal Das, general secretary of the All India Football Federation, told the Financial Times.

India already has a relatively new two-division I-League serving as its top professional tier, but Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani – considered one of Asia’s richest men – intends to spend millions on a new league, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified people close to Ambani.

IMG Reliance will "develop the branding and marketing aspects related to [the] national team, domestic competitions and participating teams," the AIFF said in a statement. The group will have all commercial rights to Indian soccer, including rights to sponsorship, advertising, broadcasting and merchandising.

 IMG Reliance and the AIFF also will work together to develop soccer talent in the country, including through training facilities such as those that IMG operates for various sports in Bradenton, Florida, the AIFF said.

 And that could help the prospects of India in international soccer competition.

 “In a country with a population of 1.2 billion people and incredibly talented athletes, it’s a realistic goal that India aims for a future World Cup berth,” IMG Worldwide CEO Ted Forstmann said in the AIFF statement.

 IMG Reliance has its eyes on other Indian sports, too. Earlier this year, the group struck a similar deal with the country’s basketball federation, as reported in the Economic Times of India.

Post by:
Filed under: India • Soccer • Sports
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Hindi Soccer League

    So far we have only two teams. The "Muslim Mutilators" and the "Hindu Haters". It should be another exciting season though, given the tense and oftentimes viloent relationship between these two groups in India. A third team, the "Pakistani Abolishers", were attacked and eaten by domestic monkeys earlier this year. Some speculate these were trained monkeys and were honorary members of Blackwater's K-9 squad.

    December 10, 2010 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
    • ::::::::::: Facebook Search Engine ::: http://x.co/L84R

      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      "country of 1.2 billion"
      .
      but, surely, India never will have a lack o players... 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .

      December 10, 2010 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    didn't read the article and don't understand the coments.
    Let me just say India is a fine place and soccer appears to be a good cardio workout.
    Make no mistake. Someday India will be the worlds most populous country and soccer the worlds most beloved sport.

    December 10, 2010 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. jeff

    soccer rules

    December 10, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Param

    it hardly matter what game was played and in what form, but it wasn't until the late 19th century when this game took the present shape. All other ball games could be considered as the predecessor to the contemporary day game.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |