HomeSportsFootballWhy Foreign Leagues are Investing in Indian Football | Football’s New Frontier
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Why Foreign Leagues are Investing in Indian Football | Football’s New Frontier

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Football is one of the most favorite and followed sports in the country. There is a huge population in India that is devoted to the sport of football and follow it religiously. While it is true that cricket still remains the most followed sport in the country, football has seen steady strides toward gaining popularity. And now, these strides are paying off. For a long time, the sport has remained dormant. But it has now woken up like a giant and is ready to take the scene by storm.

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The occurrence of this is a multifactorial event. Several recent developments have contributed to this moment coming to fruition. Among all of these reasons or factors, it is little doubt that the Indian Super League has played a major role in this. With a staggering fan base of more than 155 million followers, this league secures its position as the fifth-largest football league globally when considering average spectator attendance. Surpassing renowned leagues like Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States, Ligue 1 in France, and Liga MX in Mexico, it proudly stands behind football powerhouses such as the Bundesliga in Germany, the Premier League (PL) in the United Kingdom, La Liga in Spain, and Serie A in Italy.

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Furthermore, another reason which has played a pivotal role in this regard is the country playing host to major global tournaments and events, such as the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2020 et cetera. Events of such magnitude help garner viewership from around the world and also grab media attention. The 2017 Under 17 World Cup broke previous attendance records with estimates coming in at around 1.3 million spectators. The media attention grabbed due to this helped immensely in upgrading the facilities and sporting infrastructure, enhancing the skill of the associated personnel and inculcating knowledge to the intuitions and government bodies responsible for holding such events.

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Reasons for Rise in Foreign Investment in Indian Football Market

Indian Football Team
Image Source: Times of India

In recent times, the Indian football market has experienced an unprecedented upsurge in foreign investment, marking the dawn of a new era for the sport in the nation. A multitude of factors has contributed to India becoming an irresistible destination for international investors. Firstly, with its vast population and expanding middle class, India offers an untapped football market of colossal proportions. Furthermore, the rise of successful domestic leagues and the notable performance of the national team have garnered global attention. In addition, strategic collaborations with foreign clubs and leagues have paved the way for talent development and infrastructural advancements. With fervent fan support, promising commercial prospects, and a nation yearning for football triumph, India has catapulted to the forefront of foreign investment, laying the foundation for an extraordinary football renaissance.

As a result of this ever-growing popularity of football in India, several European and American clubs have shown interest in expansion over here. As a result of this, many of these clubs have set up bases here. The Spanish football league La Liga has made India their base since 2016 and has opened La Liga Football Schools, intending to reach 10,000 kids through the 35 football schools in 14 cities across eight states.

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Jose Antonio Cachaza, Image Source: The Economic Times

Jose Antonio Cachaza, managing director for La Liga in India, on being asked about the same had this to say:

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“Our strategy for India is geared towards a long-term approach; you cannot rush when working in a country as big and complex as India. We cannot forget either that football is not, nor is expected to be, the first sport here. So far, the results have been good. Before launching our India strategy, we had around 300,000 followers on Facebook in India. Today, less than three years later, they top 3.5 million, which makes La Liga the most-followed international football league in India.”

India is the largest market for digital and social media giants such as Sony, Facebook, Instagram et cetera. It is because of this very reason that the network providers or media houses see the country as a gigantic market for viewership. People can now watch matches anywhere and anytime on their devices and this has tremendously boosted the viewership. And catering to this fervor for the game, different leagues from across the globe have also decided to capitalize on it, bringing their product here.

Numerous analysts have given their verdicts and opinion on the recent development of football in the country, and it all comes down to basically three things; grassroots development, professional leagues, and national team building. Owing to these developments, there has been a paradigm shift in the football scenario and foreign investors are investing in all levels and prospects associated with it. The business and revenue generation opportunities are too good to be overlooked and the fans and supporters have helped motivate us to keep this going on.

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Benefits of Foreign Investment in Indian Football

Financial Infusion

The influx of foreign investment brings substantial financial resources to the Indian football ecosystem, facilitating the growth of infrastructure, development programs, and grassroots initiatives. This infusion of capital enables the improvement of training facilities, stadium infrastructure, and youth academies, laying a solid groundwork for the progress of football in the country. With increased financial support, the overall football ecosystem in India receives a significant boost, creating better opportunities for players, coaches, and the football community as a whole.

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Global Expertise

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Foreign investors in Indian football bring invaluable expertise, knowledge, and experience from established football markets, introducing advanced coaching techniques, sports science methodologies, and best practices in player development. This raises the standard of coaching and player training across India, nurturing skill development at all levels and improving the overall quality of football education.

Talent Exchange and Exposure

Through collaboration with foreign clubs and leagues, player exchanges are facilitated, providing Indian players with valuable exposure to international training environments and competitive opportunities. This exposure allows Indian players to learn from and compete against top-quality athletes, accelerating their development and elevating the overall standard of Indian football.

International Recognition and Competitiveness

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Foreign investment in Indian football boosts global recognition and credibility, attracting attention from fans, media, and football stakeholders worldwide. This spotlight on Indian football enhances the competitiveness of clubs, leagues, and the national team, enabling them to thrive on the international stage. With heightened visibility and respect, Indian football solidifies its position in the global football community, unlocking new opportunities for growth, partnerships, and accomplishments.

Some of the major foreign associations in Indian football

  • FC Goa and RB Leipzig
  • Hyderabad FC and Borussia Dortmund
  • Mumbai City FC and City Football Group
  • Atletico de Kolkata and Atletico Madrid
  • Bengaluru FC and Rangers FC
  • Odisha FC and Watford FC

Needless to say, the increased accessibility and commercialization have boosted the appeal of the game of football to the masses and has in turn brought in foreign investment into the sport. This has ensured that the coming days for the sport will be good and that the young and aspiring footballers have a smooth walk in the future.

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