India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani has hailed the start of a glamorous new football league that organisers hope will trigger an explosion of interest in the game, long sidelined in favour of cricket. Ambani, who is bankrolling the Indian Super League (ISL), said after Sunday’s launch in the eastern city of Kolkata that he hoped it would boost the sport’s popularity among young Indians.
“What a fantastic start to ISL,” he told reporters late Sunday after Atletico de Kolkata downed Mumbai City 3-0 in front of 70,000-odd fans following a glitzy opening ceremony.
“I hope that it will engage all the youth, we are looking to the youth of India to participate in football,” said Ambani, chairman of the giant Reliance Industries group.
Modelled on cricket’s Indian Premier League, eight franchises are taking part in the 10-week long competition, televised by Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV and backed by sports management giant IMG. Cricketing greats such as Sachin Tendulkar and Bollywood A-listers are co-owners of the teams along with Spanish La Liga side Atletico Madrid.
(Source: Times of India, Dt Oct 13, 2014)