Dallas: India will begin an eight-team Super League in January to tap growing interest in football in the nation of 1.2 billion people, organizers said.
Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Ltd, broadcaster Star India Pvt. Ltd and sports agency IMG Worldwide Inc. own equal stakes in the venture, IMG said in an e-mailed news release.
The competition is scheduled to begin on 18 January and will run through March with another phase of games planned for later in 2014. Each city’s team will have a marquee player, with a roster made up of talent from India and other countries. The aim is to help India, which is currently 154th in FIFA’s world rankings, qualify for the 2026 World Cup, according to the statement.
“Our objective is nothing short of creating a movement around football in India,” Uday Shankar, Star India’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “We want to put India on the global map.”
The model is similar to cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL), which began in 2008 and attracted the world’s best players to compete in a six-week Twenty20 tournament. The Mumbai Indians won this year’s final in May.