With the success of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the onus of making this year’s Indian Super League bigger than ever will again be on the ever-enthusiastic Indian football devotees.
The Indian Super League (ISL) is surely a giant leap towards forcing a football revolution in India. The country which is often termed as the “sleeping giant” of world football seems to have woken up and is roaring out loud.
Last season, the ISL witnessed a massive growth in its popularity. The league was watched by roughly 216 million people in India. The league’s final clash between Atletico de Kolkata and Kerala Blasters FC saw a massive viewership growth of 41% as the nail-biting match was viewed by a whopping 41 million people in India.
The popularity meter will surely break its bounds this season as the football craze in the country is on a whole new level. Let’s take a look at some major reasons boosting the 2017-18 season which kicks off on later today.
1) The recently concluded FIFA U-17 World Cup witnessed a record-breaking attendance. Most stadiums had decent numbers and echoed with cheers and support for the teams. Even though India was absent for a major part of the tournament, the number of fans attending matches continued to rise. The international event has definitely created a football frenzy which will surely boost the popularity of the ISL.
2) This season, the ISL achieved a major feat before its beginning. The league, which was craving international recognition, has now been approved as India’s second tier league. The ISL has replaced the Federation Cup as India’s qualifying league for AFC Cup.
The winner of the ISL gets a chance to compete in the AFC Cup. International recognition boosts the league’s popularity across the world thus grossing more fans.
3) The fourth season of the ISL could mark a major step towards the merging of India’s top two leagues ie the I-League and the ISL. This season hosts two new teams Jamshedpur FC and the much-loved Bengaluru FC.
The love and support which Bengaluru command is surely a major reason that will boost the ISL’s popularity. BFC have been flying the flag for Indian football on the continent with their unprecedented success in the AFC Cup. The presence of such a great team in the league increases the fight for the title thus grabbing tons of new followers for the league.
4) Be it the IPL or the ISL, foreign players are always the centre of attraction. The likes of Iain Hume, John Arne Riise, Nicolas Anelka and Elano grabbed a lot of attention in previous seasons. With the inclusion of former Manchester United stars Dimitar Berbatov, Wes Brown and striker Robbie Keane, the league has already created a buzz.
The way Berbatov was welcomed by fans clearly shows how eager these fans are to see such legends on the field. Along with such big players, teams have also signed young international stars, thus boosting the competition in the league.
With the inclusion of two new teams, the duration of the league has been increased from 3 months to 5 months, with matches being played only between Wednesday and Sunday. Thus, providing a limited high-quality dose every week, keeping the fans engrossed.
ISL officials have taken every possible step to make the league more entertaining and fruitful for Indian football. The excitement and eagerness is building before the beginning of the league and it is sure to be a blockbuster.