Kolkata: Argentine soccer legend Hernan Crespo became the hottest property of a new Indian soccer league starting next month when he fetched USD 840,000 in an auction of players and coaches in Kolkata city on Monday.
Crespo was snapped up by the Barasat franchise of Premier League Soccer (PLS), which is modelled on cricket`s highly successful Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament and scheduled from February 25, to April 08 in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal.
The idea of a players` auction was borrowed from IPL, whose success has spawned numerous franchise-based leagues in other sports across the country.
Italy`s 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro went to Siliguri for USD 830,000, while Robert Pires of France (USD 800,000), Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha (USD 550,000) and Liverpool great Robbie Fowler (USD 530,000) went to Howrah, Durgapur and Kolkata respectively.
Five franchises collectively spent nearly USD 7 million, each buying an `icon` player, two overseas footballers and a coach.
In an otherwise cricket-crazy country, the eastern Indian state of West Bengal is equally passionate about soccer.
Howrah will boast PLS`s most expensive coach after shelling out USD 240,000 for former Portugal central defender Fernando Couto.
Former Nigerian player and Coach Samson Siasia (Durgapur) and Icelander Teitur Thordorson (Barasat) were both sold for USD 210,000.
Former Manchester City and Sunderland manager Peter Reid (Kolkata) and Marco Etcheverry (Siliguri), arguably the greatest Bolivian player, went for USD 200,000 each.