India is all set to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup this October with great aplomb. To take it to the next level for both the local audience as well as the sponsors, India now looks to utilize these facilities off season by inviting clubs like Arsenal and Manchester United to play in India.
Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas met with EPL’s International Relation’s Manager Tim Vine during July to discuss the proposal.
According to a report in the Indian Express, Srinivas revealed that “a number of states have shown a keen interest in hosting Premier League matches”. He said, “It’s very much on the cards. The ministry will not be involved in conducting the matches, but we will encourage it.”
Over the past few years, major clubs have been touring a lot of countries all around the world from the US to Japan. The fixtures, which are scheduled in June-July just before the start of the new season, are planned almost a year in advance.
Its common for clubs to travel outside their league pre-season, looking to achieve fitness and a different sort of football. This year, Arsenal and Chelsea toured Beijing, Manchester United toured the US, Liverpool in Hong Kong while Everton toured Tanzania.
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India has attracted major interest from clubs all over the world, with the likes of Barcelona and Liverpool setting up academies whereas Athletic Madrid had a tie up with one of the ISL clubs.
India also has one of the highest viewership of the Premier League: estimated at 150 million per season. Despite that, clubs have so far refrained from visiting the country during pre-season.
In the past few years, we have seen the meteoric rise of India in both the quality of football as well as the popularity of the sport. The facilities have indeed been improving and the future of Indian football looking good.
The chances of such clubs visiting India are on the rise. This is indeed an exciting prospect and would propel India up the ladder.