Lionel Messi: Messiah of Indian football?

Zeenews Sports Bureau

New Delhi: As the biggest footballing event in India is set to unfold soon, many see this as the new beginning for the emergence of the Beautiful Game in the country.

In a country where only cricket is capable of pulling big crowd, the friendly match between Argentina and Venezuela could be considered as the new game-changer in Indian football. Apparently, the match is set to make an estimated amount of USD 4.5 million (20 crore rupees) from broadcasting rights, sponsorship deals and ticket sales. The buzz is that Celebrity Management Group (CMG) has already sold the broadcasting rights for the match for a whopping USD 1 million (4.5 crore rupees).

One-Day International matches in India usually generate approximately 10 crore rupees, which when compared to the estimated amount for this match shows a huge difference. This could be marked as the changing times in the Indian football scenario.

Moreover, ESPN has bought the rights for South Asia, Eurodata, while Switzerland-based Kentaro will telecast the match for regions `Africa-Rest Of Asia` and `Europe-North and South America` respectively.

This is not the first time an international football star is appearing on the Indian shores. Great players like Pele, Roger Milla, Gerd Mueller, Diego Forlan and Diego Maradona have come to Kolkata to either play exhibition matches or promote events. But it’s worth noting that Pele featured in an exhibition match and that too when he had already retired from international football. Diego Maradona didn’t even play any match during his visit to Kolkata in 2008.

Unlike the past, Messi will feature in an international match, which gives our country’s die-hard football fans a chance to watch their favourite star.

No doubt, it is the biggest football event our country has ever hosted. The more the country host bigger matches the more the amount of money generated. Big games always come with big money, which is essential for the survival of any sport. This might well play a part in destroying the long believed myth that it is only cricket that can excel in financial terms in India.

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