Goa: As Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (MSD) signed a pact with the broadcasters to promote the Premier League - the world’s biggest and most popular football league- here, in India, eminent personalities from the Indian football fraternity laid bare that it was time Indian football too received its fair share of attention, shedding light on a noticeable void in the promotional activities of the I-League.
“Whenever a well-known sports star promotes any other sport, it is bound to generate a lot of interest. So, we are happy that MSD is promoting the (Premier) League. We understand the market dynamics and realise that these endorsements bring in a lot of money for the stars, and Indian football can`t really afford that kind of moolah. But, we would still hope that some of the stars would throw their might behind Indian football. It would be really nice,” enlightened Kushal Das, general secretary of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Director of the Indian National team, Subhankar Mukherjee, stopped short of flogging Dhoni for promoting a vastly superior league in terms of resources and funds, but chose to highlight the aversion to promote the country’s indigenous league by superstars, whose attention has a multiplying effect.
“It is nice that MSD is promoting the (Premier) League. But, the point is - it is already well-known across the world and flushed with funds. In fact, we would wish Dhoni to support Indian football someday. Shah Rukh Khan has gone on record to say that he wants to buy a football team. Who knows, MSD may also buy a soccer team in India. That would be just great! We have had stars like Leander Paes supporting football and we need more poster boys, who can promote the game,” strobes Mukherjee.
Bhaichung Bhutia believes that it is a novel idea for stars from various field to associate themselves with the popular game as it helps catch more eyeballs.
“It`s nice whenever celebs endorse or support a particular sport. When popular stars - of films or sport - promote a game, it gains popularity and attracts advertisers` interest. Football is one of the most popular sports in the world. Unfortunately, in India, it hasn`t got its financial due or gained advertisers` attention. But, if a cricketing star supports it, things will slowly change for better,” he mentioned.