Editor’s Pick: European clubs can play big role in Indian football

The rise in partnership deals with Indian clubs and European clubs could play a big role in shaping up the future of Indian football.

Football remains in the shadow of cricket in India. However, the introduction of the Indian Super League (ISL) has helped football to shine in the shadow of the biggest sport played in cricket. The lucrative ISL offers opportunities for younger players to make a mark in the game and promote the game as a career option amongst the next generation.

The introduction of franchise-based clubs has also opened up avenues of partnerships with some of the biggest clubs in Europe. Mumbai City FC became part of the ever-growing City Football group at the end of 2019. The City football group has been expanding across the globe. Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund has signed a partnership deal with Hyderabad FC. RB Leipzig has also signed a strategic deal with FC Goa. Most recently, Sevilla FC is also looking to dip in the Indian market and partner with a football club in the country.

La Liga schools are already being established in different parts of the country. The intervention of the biggest clubs and organizations from Europe does show that the Indian market for football is getting better. Apart from tapping up the commercial potential in the second most populated country in the world, European clubs should also look to achieve sporting ambitions in the country.

Create more awareness about football

Despite the success of ISL, the Indian Football Team does not get enough support in the stadiums during the crucial qualifiers for Asian Cup and FIFA World Cup qualifiers. There is still a long way to go for the Indian team to play in a major tournament, but strong support from the fanbase can surely help in giving them conditions to succeed.

Indian football team still suffers from a lack of adequate infrastructure and investment compared to cricket. The European clubs cannot invest in the national team, but as part of the strategic partnerships, they can create more awareness about Indian football by holding camps across the country. These camps would also work in favour of clubs too as they can also increase their fanbase.

Opportunities for Indian footballers in European Leagues

Along with increasing awareness about football across the country, the clubs should also give opportunities to younger players from India to get trials. Indian footballers have rarely made it in Europe, but they deserve chances instead of getting written off.

Moreover, the clubs would benefit massively if they are able to unearth gems by giving trials to Indian players. Exposure to European football will make players better, so ISL clubs need to make arrangements while signing partnership deals that allow promising young players in India have opportunities to make it big in Europe through fair trails.

Assisting ISL clubs to function better

Some of the big European clubs have been successful due to the robust structure at the club. They have managed to strike a balance in commercial and sporting success. ISL clubs have done fairly well since the inception of the league in 2014. However, there is always a scope for improving the structure at these clubs.

Proper use of technology, data, sports science, and analytics have become the backbone of successful clubs in Europe. These clubs can help in assisting Indian clubs to become structurally better during these strategic associations. A better run league is as good as the clubs participating in it are run well. For now, ISL and the clubs in the league are doing well, but they can take the next step in their development by learning from some of the well-run clubs in Europe.

Obviously, the strategic partnerships cannot be one-way traffic as the foreign clubs also want to see some returns on investments. The Indian clubs can do that by helping them to get a stronghold in the Indian market and widen the fanbase. Indian clubs can surely help these European clubs in the Indian market, but the influence of foreign clubs in Indian football can have a lasting impact on the future of the sport in the Asian nation.

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