Initiated through a joint venture by IMG-Reliance and AIFF (All India Football Federation) the Indian Super League will kick off in October this year.
Sep Blatter has described India as a "sleeping giant" in the world of football. The competition will be largely based on the USSF (United States Soccer Federation) format whereby there will be no relegation and promotion and each team will be created through a franchise.
To begin with the tournament will consist of 8 teams which have been set up to participate in the league. Each team will play each other twice. At the end of the season the top four teams will qualify for the final series tournament. The semi-finals of that tournament will be played in a two-legged format with the winner moving into the final and whoever wins will win the series.
The Super League will be using controlled rosters. Where each team must sign at least one marquee player while also signing seven other foreign players. Of the foreign players brought in, only two can be directly signed with the other five coming from the foreign player draft. Each team must also include 14 domestic players, four of which must be from the local city.
So far the teams that have been announced are:
|Atlético de Kolkata
|Antonio López Habas
|Harm van Veldhoven
|Alessandro Del Piero
|FC Pune City
|Kerala Blasters FC
|David James (Head Coach and Player)
|Mumbai City FC
|NorthEast United FC
What does this mean for the Future of Indian Football?
This league indicates a huge shift in sport for India as a country, as the league hopes to one day rival the viewers of cricket in India. With millions being pumped into the league and wages and clubs committed to improving grass roots football, this should provide a much needed boost to Indian Football. Should the league take off in India, the teams' academies will have a wealth of talent to select from (as there's only eight teams), this in itself may improve youth football in India. As well as the chance for Indian players in the Super League sides to learn from some of the best in the game.
The improved conditions and star players in the Indian Super League could provide a much needed boost to the national side. AsIndia are currently ranked 150th by FIFA and have never played a match at the FIFA World Cup, football fans and players alike will be hoping that with the introduction of the new league this statistic will change, but they will need to be patient as this type of shift will take time.
Both short and long term the future of football looks bright for India. One of the largest obstacles that the new league will face is the popularity of cricket with not little room for anything else. However, with legends like Robert Pires and Del Piero playing and the commitment to grass roots football, Indian Football is heading in the right direction.