Euro 2012 is the talking point across the world and the cricket crazy nation of India is no exception. Walk down any street in the country and odds are you’ll find fans talking about Van-Persie, Ronaldo and Gomez. The popular social media sites are filled with armchair opinions of matches. The arrival of a lot of female fans to the scene comes across as a breath of fresh air. In contrast, however the I-League and even the Indian national team has failed to generate even one-tenth of this interest.

In the midst of Ai??European action, TheHardTackle looks at what the Euro 2012 means for Indian Football fans and ponders why India’s very own I-League fails to generate such a response and what lessons the flag-bearers of Indian Football can take from this tremendous response to Euro 2012

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Better Marketing

Srinivas Dempo on being asked about the proposed deal between Dempo andAi??popularAi??actor Shah-Rukh Khan, said

We are interested in Shah Rukh the brand, rather than the finances. I told him in my first meeting itself that more than his money, we need his time. Whether he comes on board as an investor or a brand ambassador is secondary. Shah Rukh can have a huge influence on the game. His presence will change the face of Indian football as spectators will start thronging the venues, sponsors will start queuing up and Indian football will get the fillip it deserves.

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Thumbs Up from brand SRK !

 

Dempo chairman is spot on his analysis. Indian Football if marketed well can definitely bring in the crowds to the stadium. The presence of big celebrities like Shah Rukh will bolster the image of Indian matches and draw crowds to the matches. The IndianAi??PremierAi??League is a big example and a role-model for clubs ahead where the presence of cheerleaders and celebrities add to the glamor and offer even not so comitted cricket-lovers anAi??opportunityAi??to watch the sport.

The very association of Dempo with Shah-Rukh had Dempo trending on Twitter and the world was forced to take note. This shows that proper packaging can no doubt lead to a better response from the public. Sporting Club de Goa set trends byAi??organizing pre-match, as well asAi??half-time, entertainment programs like ai???Sportainmentai??? which featured contests like ai???3 Minutes To Fameai???. They released an anthem “FlamingAi??Orange” and also launched a mascot Zumba. Sporting’s popularity in Goa has vaulted into the stratosphere and fans across the state thronged to see their matches.

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Sporting And their On-Field Entertainment was a big hit this season !!

Sporting - Pulling out the stops

 

Spectator- Friendly Timings

No where else in the world are matches organized at 3.30 in the afternoon on the weekdays. These timings of I-League matches are harsh on players who have to play in front of empty stands in 40 degree heat. The introduction of flood-lit matches in Goa towards the end of the season did lift the tempo of the matches, which were well attended. Pune FC matches in Pune are played in the evenings and a sizable crowd is always present to watch the matches.

The AIFF in its new calendar has proposed matches be held only on the weekends. This is indeed a welcome decision and small things such as these would go a long way in increasing spectator turnout at the stadium.

A Pan-India Outlook

The I-League is currently restricted to Kolkata, Goa, Mumbai and the North-East. A balanced representations from all corners of the nation would lead to widerAi??acceptabilityAi??and regional acceptance. This would encourage development of the fanbase, as is the case among the European nations. Most of the matches played by the national team are restricted to Pune or Delhi. The AIFF should try and conduct matches across the nation in a bid to attract greater crowds. The effective use of FIFA match days is a must in this regard. The telecast of matches on the national television and a live-stream on the AIFF website would give the game a much needed shot in the arm.

Revamping Tournaments andAi??ExhibitionAi??Matches

The Bayern-India match was a huge hit in India and witnessed a near full-house. Matches like these help India leave a trace on the football map of the world. Fans across the world sat glued to their screen as Baichung and his boys locked horns with German giants. Exhibition matches like these are an annual feature in nations like Singapore andAi??Malaysia and it should not come as a surprise that these nations are fast moving ahead as football powerhouses.

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Bayern vs India was a step in the right direction

Bayern vs India was a step in the right direction

 

Domestic tournaments like the Santosh Trophy and Durand Cup need a makeover to suit the current needs of the younger-generation. Though the PLS has failed to get going, such an event under the aegis of AIFF involving a few foreign stars would provide a much needed impetus to football across the nation and Indians will be forced to take notice.

With football interest andAi??viewership at its peak with theAi??ongoingAi??Euro tournaments, ardent football fans in India will hope that the AIFF can take advantage of this momentum. With cricket falling inAi??popularity, if properly marketed and presented, Indian Football can generate the same interest in India as European Football does.

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14 Responses to “Euro 2012 Fever Grips India: Is the AIFF Watching?”

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  1. Rahul says:

    Excellent article. However instead of just complaining about AIFF all the time, its time to start targeting and exposing the some of the state football associations too which are basically cripling the game in the states due to outright lethargy, The Delhi soccer association and the Haryana football association are a case in point. The Delhi soccer association is supposedly running the game in the Capital city of India, but has no website, no facebook page no nothing. It makes farcial anouncements 3 days before coaching camps and tournaments. The Haryana state football association is run by MP Deepender Singh Hooda (He is also president of some 20 other associations) and periodcialy makes farcial anoncements about opening academies or collobarting with the Dutch etc etc while doing ZIPO on the ground. Such state associations need to be exposed else these guys will keep eating tax-payer money and do nothing for football other than hold the game hostage just to hold on to their silly titles.

  2. animesh guha says:

    good read rahul.

  3. Jose says:

    The people who control football in India has zero knowledge about the sport. Its a big shame for us that we are languishing at 164th . India deserves a much better position.

  4. George says:

    Allow PIO’s to play for India ..this can immediately catapult the status of Indian football and can bring much needed galmour to the game..Sports ministry needs to take note of this ..dont know wot they are doing on this ..

  5. Amir says:

    We badly need PLS ..dont know if AIFF is behind stalling the league ..first time Indian football was going to get a professional look..with much fanfare this was wot country needed