'India could be one of the most lucrative markets of football'

'India could be one of the most lucrative markets of football'

"Everybody around the world knows the potential that India has with its millions of young people who are interested in sports... India is a sleeping football giant," International Football Arena Ltd Founder and Chairman Marcel Schmid told PTI.

Asked about the potential of the football market in India, Schmid did not specify any figures but said, "It could be as big as that of the US and China."

No verifiable figures about the size of the football market in the US and China are available.

He cited the acquisition of commercial rights to football in India for 15 years by IMG Worldwide and Reliance Industries from the All-India Football Federation for an estimated Rs 700 crore last year as a sign of things to come.

"Talking about the mid to long-term, say in the next five to ten years, the game can develop to become a lucrative proposition here," he said.

Zurich-based International Football Arena Ltd has been involved in the promotion of football across the world by hosting events, fostering debate and inspiring exchanges between decision-makers in the business of football for over a decade.

It started in 1999, with the IFA conference in Zurich, which has taken place annually ever since. It is holding its roundtable in Delhi NCR on June 9 and 10 to discuss the business of football.

Schmid, however, said the development of football as a marketing proposition in a country where cricket is religion is a huge challenge.

"The first and the foremost thing is that we need good infrastructure, not only for the top clubs in India who play in the I-League, but also at the grassroots," he said.

Besides encouraging Indian clubs to draw more revenues from tickets, football matches must also be created to be TV friendly to draw more viewers, which in turn will help attract more sponsors and advertisers, Schmid added.

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