For years, Cricket has been India’s most popular sport, with millions of people following and supporting the teams. In India, Cricket has a value of over $1 billion! However, football fans, and value, are growing in numbers as well. Football is valued at roughly $65 million. The sport still has quite a ways to go to catch up with Cricket, but the die hard fans in the northeast part of India are trying to make that happen.
Mawkasiang village, on the outskirts of Shillong, is a region where India's economy has experienced hard times. Yet, their love of football, and the local football club team, LaJong, brings them together in a whole new way. Many fans never miss a game. Whether they’re watching in one of the local bars, or cheering in the stands, there isn’t a lack of support.
The growing popularity of football in India has appeared on the radar of multiple world-wide known companies, such as Nokia, and Adidas. These companies are investing in the club team, LaJong, as sponsors and supporters. This greatly helps both LaJong and the sponsors because LaJong receives its necessary funds, and the sponsors get their brand name in front of millions of people.
With hopes of boosting merchandising sales, local businesses are setting up sports bars and cafes made to hold large crowds on game day. Going off the idea of “If you build it, he will come,” local companies are expecting to find success. As fans pour in and grab a beverage or order a meal while they root for their team, business would thrive. Not to mention, this would help drive up the already $65 million value of football in India.
Furthermore, sponsoring isn’t the only foreign investing going on. Companies outside of the country are noticing the growing market and grabbing a chance to take part. The English Premier League is hoping to tap into India’s rising demand for the sport. This would be done by building a premier league club to play in India. As an English team has never played in India before, if a team like Manchester United, with an Indian fan base of 17 million people, were to play there, it would be a great way to capitalize on the growing market. With crowds nearing 120,000 people per game, and the added profit from merchandising, it’s no wonder that everyone wants to get a foothold.
For more information, check out BBC News’ video: Football tries to kick into India