Mumbai: In a bid to popularise football in the country, Cola giant Pepsi plans to bring a top English Premier League player to the country in June.
Star international footballers from the English football club Chelsea Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres will feature in a soon-to-be-aired Pepsi `Change the Game` advertisement along with Indian cricket team skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Harbhajan Singh.
"At an appropriate time we will let you know who that international player is who will come down and coach the winning team. We will share the information as we come closer to June. You will see how Pepsi is changing the game and we are the first brand to bring footballers and cricketers in the same commercial," a Pepsi official said. Asked if all the three Chelsea players would come to India, the official said, "We are working on the processes and dates, so at least one of them would be coming to Delhi."
The source added that the footballers are associated with the brand individually and it is not a tie-up with their club.
Pepsi recently launched its first football campaign in India featuring actor Ranbir Kapoor. The campaign has been followed by a grassroots initiative called Pepsi T20 Football, where amateur footballers will play against each other to finally compete against the Indian cricketers.
In an advertisement, Ivory Coast International Drogba says, "I like Dhoni. (In a) few games I have been watching of his, he is brilliant. He has been fantastic."
The commercial features the cricketers challenging the footballers to a game of cricket to win Pepsi, while the footballers show them how to play cricket - football style.
"Playing football in cricket style, that`s a very new thing for us," English mid-fielder Lampard says while Spaniard Torres adds, "Playing soccer in cricket style was real fun."
The format of the game has been changed to suit the needs of the masses, the source said, adding that the duration of the game is for 20 minutes including a five-minute break between the two halves.
"For us Pepsi T20 football is an exciting way of playing the game. When we decided to associate with the game, it essentially came from the fact that it is an emerging youth passion. It is our way of popularising the game in a fun exciting form," he said.
"It is a seven-a- side tournament with 20 minutes game. The most exciting part is that it is a large scale initiative that we have embarked on to popularise the sport of football. It will be played across seven cities. We have already covered Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and now, Mumbai.
"Then we will take it to Lucknow, Ludhiana and Delhi. There will be eight teams who slug it out in mid June. Of those, the finalist will be coached by an international football star and will play against the Indian cricketers. We have started with 64 teams in each city. It is a large scale programme and we had to keep a cap on the registration because of the huge response. The format of the game is exciting as it is played in a cage," the official said.
The global beverage maker has partnered broadcaster ESPN StarSports to telecast the matches and has changed the rules of the game.
"The basic rules of football remain the same but what T20 does is it adds its own rules to the game which makes it more entertaining. You can even a hit a four and a six in this format, depending on the distance from where you score a goal. The goalkeeper cannot come out of the box, otherwise it becomes a penalty. These kinds of rules have been added to make the game more interesting," the official said.