Indian Super League High On Ambition, Faces Skepticism Ahead Of Kickoff
The Indian Super League's backers "include some of the biggest names in Indian sport, business and Bollywood," according to the AFP. But the ISL, "which promises to lure a galaxy of former stars out of retirement, is already facing scepticism and even downright hostility from within the game some five months ahead of kick-off." Valanka Alemao, CEO of Churchill Brothers, ex-champions of India’s current domestic league, said, "It’s going to kill the sleeping giant without allowing it a chance to wake up and get out of bed. This is such a weak-structured tournament that it’s bound to fail." The sleeping giant tag was first coined by FIFA President Sepp Blatter on a visit to India in '07, but with even war-torn Syria and Afghanistan now ranked higher, "some wags have said the snooze has become a coma." Nita Ambani, chair of the joint venture IMG-Reliance marketing group which conceived the idea of the league, said, “Football, with its largely untapped potential in the country, has the opportunity to grow to an unrivalled commercial success quite unlike any other sport." A "more measured assessment" came from former national cricket captain and Kolkata co-Owner Sourav Ganguly. Ganguly: "It’s the start of something good. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, things will improve" (AFP, 4/22).