Amitabh Bachchan and a host of Bolywood celebrities, India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, his wife Nita Ambani and former cricket captain Sourav Gagnuly for the first time would share a platform aiming at to resurrect football by participating in the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL) match between Atletico de Kolkata and Mumbai City FC in Kolkata at the Salt Lake Stadium tomorrow.
For now no body has any guess the strong and weak points of the rival teams (total eight), but everyone would agree the opening ISL would be second biggest money spinning sport in India after the cash rich IPL. India’s top industrialists, Bollywood celebrities like Abhiseikh Bachchan, John Abraham, Ranbir Kapoor have pumped crore of rupees to lure World famed soccer players to fly India in humid condition and play next 10-12 weeks in eight venues.
Italian World Cup winners Alessandro Del Piero and Marco Materazzi (2006), Spain’s Joan Capdevila and Luis Garcia, and French stars David Trezeguet and Robert Pires have all signed up to play in ISL. Whilst Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium to host the opening, there seven more cities Delhi, Guwahati, Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Kochi and Chennai to organise matches.
The teams are Delhi Dynamos (Delhi), Northeast United FC (Guwahati), Atletico de Kolkata (Kolkata), Mumbai City FC (Mumbai), FC Pune City (Pune), FC Goa (Goa), Kerala Blasters (Kochi) and Chennaiyin FC (Chennai). Each taem needs to sign 14 Indian players in a minimum squad of 22. Each team has 1 marquee player (foreign) and 7 internationals.
Altogether 94 foreign players signed up by teams for the first edition including 8 marquee footballers. The league will be played on home/away basis. Each team faces the other twice (home and away). The top four qualify for a two-legged semi-finals followed by the two semi-finals’ winners contesting the final on December 20 (venue to be decided).
The champions will get Rs 8 crores while the runner-up receives Rs 4 crores. Semi-finalists will take home Rs 1.5 crore each. India in recent time have improved in some disciplines, especially in Cricket, Hockey and Kabbadi after professionalism were introduced and players were rewarded handsomely (monetary).
However, football needs a very special attention in 1.3 billion people country, which stand 158th in FIFA rank. But many speculated that while standard of Cricket, Hockey and Kabbadi improved a lot in India due to participation of World’s top class current players and ISL, managed by Relaince-IMG, invited all former players, who hung boots even a decade ago.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, All India Football Federation president Praful Patel, and a host of Bollywood celebrities will take part in the inauguration. Before the match start at 1900 hours, cultural function in which Priyanka Chopra Chopra will dance at the which would begin at 1800 hours.
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