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Dublin: 0°C Thursday 6 May 2021

Signed up: Former stars on board for new Indian football league

Names such as Robert Pires, Fernando Morientes and Fabio Cannavaro are in line for a bumper payday after agreeing to play in Asia.

World Cup winner winner Cannavaro playing for Al Ahli in Dubai.
World Cup winner winner Cannavaro playing for Al Ahli in Dubai.
Image: Kamran Jebreili/AP/Press Association Images

A HANDFUL OF football’s former greats including Fabio Cannavaro, Hernan Crespo and Robert Pires have agreed to join a new Indian football franchise.

The six-team league will be modelled on cricket’s IPL T20, which was set up in 2008, and 30 players and coaches will be auctioned in Calcutta ahead of the season openers next month.

The Celebrity Management Group (CMG) has signed a 30-year deal in what looks like being a huge boost for the Indian Football Association, whose national team are ranked 162nd by FIFA.

Cricket dominates sport in India but with a television broadcasting rights deal in the pipeline, this could be a major step in developing football in the country.

“We have signed seven icon players for the auction and each of the six teams will have one such player with a $600,000 (€470,000) salary cap,” CMG’s executive director Bhaswar Goswami said in The Guardian today.

The league is modelled on Major League Soccer and of course IPL.”

Other players who have agreed to participate in the new venture include Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler, Nigerian midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha, former Real Madrid striker Fernando Morientes and Portugal’s Maniche.

Some of them will earn around €400,000 for playing in the eight-week competition, which explains why so many high-profile names have signed up.

“We saw the hype and buzz around the players’ auction in IPL and feel it can be an equal success.

“It’s a brilliant concept,” Goswami added. “We expect owners to make profit much earlier than the IPL franchises.”

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Ben Blake

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