India to start its own Premier League

Dirty Tackle
Robert Pires has found his cash cow. His Hindu cash cow. (Getty)
Robert Pires has found his cash cow. His Hindu cash cow. (Getty)

In 2008, India revolutionized cricket with the Indian Premier League — it features fast-paced games, big salaries, distracting bright colors, loud music and lots of other things to make cricket much less boring. Following its huge success, a company called the Celebrity Management Group (CMG) has inked a deal with the Indian Football Association to give soccer a similar makeover. The radical new league will last only six weeks, with 30 players auctioned between six teams. I'm no fancy mathematician, but I believe that makes the league 5-a-side. ESPN reports:

"We have signed seven 'icon' players for the auction and each of the six teams will have one such player with a $600,000 salary cap," Bhaswar Goswami, executive director of CMG told Reuters. "We have started with six teams this year, all in the state of West Bengal but have already been approached to expand the league to other parts of the country.

"Every team will have $2.5 million to spend in the first year. They will have a maximum of four foreigners and a compulsory six under-21 Indian players in their squad."

The seven "icons" are reportedly World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro, Robert Pires, Hernan Crespo, Fernando Morientes, Jay-Jay Okocha, Maniche and popular blackface wearer Robbie Fowler. The term "icon" appears to have been applied loosely in some cases, but Pires told French paper L'Equipe that he is proud to be the first Frenchman to play in the region, and is equally proud to potentially earn €790,000 ($1M) for a few weeks work if he is in favor with his club president.

Organizers expect the pioneering new league to mimic the success of IPL cricket, and since the English Premier League attracts around 60 million television viewers in the nation, the logic seems sound. However, in a country with a population of over 1.2 billion, this represents less than 5 percent of the people. The Indian national team currently sit 162nd in the FIFA rankings and the current domestic league is poorly supported in comparison to the nation's favorite obsession — cricket. It's hard to believe that a new venture with the dazzling talents and star power of Hernan Crespo and Jay-Jay Okocha will struggle to grow, but only time will tell.

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