Indian soccer is seeing a revival with Bollywood actors like John Abraham, cricket stars like Sachin Tendulkar and foreign clubs charging in
7/14/2014 12:03:42 PM
|written By : Nithya Subramanian|
Soccer is all about speed, spirit and solidarity. If cricket was considered a gentleman’s game, football is the ballet of the masses.
With the FIFA World Cup throwing up some sensational matches right at the beginning of the tournament, the expectation, excitement and level of competition is poised to only go higher. But unfortunately India has no presence in this game.
Ranked 154th in the world, it was only once in 1950, that India got a chance to play at the FIFA World Cup held in Brazil. But that chance, too, was lost, when the country dropped off citing lack of funds and equipment. Also, Indian footballers played barefoot, which the FIFA had banned in 1948. So far this sport, unlike cricket, is popular only in certain pockets of the country – West Bengal and the North-east, Goa and Kerala and very few stars. If Chuni Goswami, P K Banerji and Peter Thangaraj were popular in the past, Bruno Coutinho, Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chettri are popular today.
But things seem to be changing now. After the success if the Indian Premier League (IPL), businessmen as well as football lovers are seeing great potential in this game. The Rupert Murdoch and Mukesh Ambani promoted Indian Super League has attracted large corporates, former cricketers and film actors to the game.
Sachin Tendulkar has teamed up with PVP Ventures for the Kochi team called Kerala Blasters while Saurav Ganguly is Ganguly is part of a heavyweight consortium that includes Harshavardhan Neotia of Ambuja Neotia Group, Sanjeev Goenka of RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, stock broker Utsav Parekh and Spanish football club Atletico Madrid, for the Calcutta team (Atletico de Kolkata).
Bollywood’s own football ambassador John Abraham recently announced the formation of the North-East United FC while Ranbir Kapoor and Salman Khan have bid for Bombay and Poona teams respectively. Bangalore is owned by the Sun group, Goa by Videocon’s Venugopal Dhoot, Dattaraj Salgaokar and Shrinivas Dempo, while Delhi is owned by Den Networks.
But it is John Abraham who seems to be adding the ‘S’ to soccer. He has been an ardent follower of the game, acted the role of a football player in Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal and is working with Shoojit Sircar on another film based on the life of Sidbas Bhadur, who captained Mohun Bagan in the the historic 1911 Shield Final where they defeated the East Yorkshire Regiment with a score of 2-1 to become the first Asian team to win the competition.