The shirt sale issue has definitely created a stir among the Indian fans, but actions are going to matter, not just words.
After the Tri Series victory celebrations at the Mumbai Football Arena, Indian football fans were in for a delightful news which might have been leaked (just like Game of Thrones scripts and episodes) ; but it is finally official – The Indian National Football Team jerseys will be sold to public at Nike stores all across India.
The news surely got Indian football fanatics excited and some of them even flocked to their nearest Nike factory outlets to grab the blue shirt with the Indian Team logo stitched on it. But the price tags were indeed a twist in the tale for many such fans. Some were okay with the number on the price tag, but a vast majority was surely in for some disappointment. Window shopping seemed to be more convenient for the fans at large. Donning the Indian team jersey and going to the stadiums still remains a distant dream even though commercial sales have begun.
Fans have seen and reported that the jerseys are available in several Nike outlets in Bengaluru and Mumbai
The National Team Original jerseys are currently sold for a Maximum Retail Price of ₹4695 ONLY! Yes, you read it right and no, we didn’t mistype the amount. You will have to shell out more than four thousand rupees to buy the jersey of the team whose match tickets are priced at around 250 to 300 Rupees. Now Let that sink in.
An average middle-class Indian football fan must have surely followed the same thinking module as I am going to put forth now. They might say on camera that they’ll buy it, but it doesn’t really sound credible enough, except for a few. On the contrary, the Indian National cricket team jersey can be bought at several prices, ranging from INR 1400, INR 1800, INR 3100 and more. Why is the international sports gear manufacturer giving a cold shoulder to the Indian football fans?
Instead of spending that much amount of money for a single shirt, they will consider saving that money and using it for tickets to attend future national team matches along with the transportation expenses that can be easily covered. And that is surely not a bad way to think because at least they are showing their support to the team by being in the stadium and cheering for them, which is a very crucial factor in the rise of Indian football.
The West Block Blues, the Yellow Brigade, and several other fan bases will hope to get the jerseys at affordable prices
Now there are two ways of looking at it. There will be people who will buy the original jerseys by shelling out money equal to an average of 30 match tickets per national team game. The people who have this thinking module can have an opinion that if people can shell out more than five thousand rupees for a Manchester United or a Chelsea or a Real Madrid jersey, then spending four and a half thousand to buy our national team jersey should not be a problem because after all it becomes a matter of “sporting patriotism.”
On the other hand, there are people who want to have that jersey badly but do not have enough money to buy the original jersey. That feeling is currently experienced by the majority of Indian football fan community. The solution to it looks simple but can take a bit of time- wait for the first copies and second print copies. Now that is a thing which we all have done at least once; that is buying the first copy jersey which costs around 600-700 rupees, which fulfills our wish and saves money at the same time.
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If you visit any famous marketplace of your city, you should find a minimum of two to three shops selling first copy and second copy print jerseys at affordable prices. Once these copies are out, these retailers might be the most sought-after guys in your city’s football fan base; just like people working for HBO Spain. That might have hurt.
Both the sections of the fan base are right in their own way and nobody from any side of this rift should accuse anyone whatsoever- citing “lack of patriotism” or “abundance of money” as parts of the arguments. The Indian fan base is slowly growing and awareness among the fans is increasing day by day. The rise of Indian football has made Indian fans following European football interested and alert about the ongoings in our own country. There are plenty of new fans wishing to know more about Indian football and many people have started to show interest in the happenings of our own country’s footballing events- be it the Indian Super League or the I-League or the National Team matches.
Many Indian Super League teams have jerseys in affordable prices, whereas the Mohun Bagan and East Bengal jerseys seem to be the hot favorite in the Indian fan base. To put things in perspective, the most professional and successful club in recent times, Bengaluru FC, was offering their replica jerseys at a bearable cost of 1099 INR last season.
If the All India Football Federation feels that the shirt sale revenue will be as successful as revenue generation from the shirt sales of Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Paul Pogba; then we might have a problem here. But decreasing the MRP of the original jersey to an affordable price can surely make this happen- and create shirt sale records if required!
It is a humble request to the authorities at the AIFF and the Nike India executives to reconsider the price of the original jersey – and I am sure; that one day, we will witness oceans of Indian blue in our stadiums passionately cheering for their team in unison, which will be a dream come true.