Cules in India cancel all your plans for summer vacations for a report in Times of India, the country’s leading newspaper, says that FC Barcelona could be playing an exhibition match in India post the Champions League Final on May 19 in Munich. FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has never denied the fact that he sees Brazil, India and China, three countries with fast-growing economies, as the future markets for the club. So this news should hardly come as a surprise then.
The newspaper reports that the negotiations between an Indian sports management firm and the reigning European and Club World Cup champions are in the final stages with a decision expected in a week’s time. The paper quoted Lucas Lugo, CEO of We are Futbol, a consulting group based in Buenos Aires, and one of the key people in the negotiations. “So far they had several offers but rejected many of them. But they are very keen to tour India this summer,” said Lugo, who was also instrumental in getting the Argentina national team to play in Kolkata, India last year. “We started negotiations six months back and we expect to get a final word with a week’s time. Since it is a such a big club they have to get approvals from several Boards. The chances are very good.”
FC Barcelona has already made its foray into India with FCB Escola conducting a football camp in the country’s capital in January this year and with more planned in the near future. The move to play an exhibition match will only demonstrates that the club is keen to expand its base in the second most populous country of the world. “The Indian market is really big and Barca looks at its immense potential,” he said. “We know that cricket is big in India but once you get the football culture in there will be a huge interest.”
This football culture is already prevalent in the states of Kerala, Goa, West Bengal, Sikkim and its popularity is even increasing in Punjab. With the English Premier Club a regular attraction on prime time TV, fans have increased even in the metropolis of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. The cities that are being considered as likely hosts for the matches include Mumbai, Kochi and Bengaluru. “We have got 100 per cent interest from FC Barcelona in touring India during this summer,” said one of the promoters of the Kshatriya Sports Management (KSM). Besides Barca, the organisers are also looking to rope in two more big clubs to play exhibition matches. “The other clubs who have been approved and showed a positive are Paris Saint-Germain FC Rangers ( Scotland) and Juventus. We are hoping to conduct the matches at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai, Sree Kanteerava stadium in Bangalore and the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi.”
Perhaps the only factor that would be of concern to Barca fans in India is the likelihood of how many first team Barca players would be willing to make the trek after the end of 2011-12 season. It is well noted that most players head for a much-needed break post their club duties. With this year Spain players busy with Euro 2012 duties and the South American contingent busy with the World Cup 2014 qualifiers, the question remains whether this exhibition match will feature any big names. Nonethelss, Indian cules will love the opportunity to see beautiful football in blaugrana jerseys.
totalbarca will keep you posted about further developments in the story.
Source: Times of India; Image credit: Diver & Aguilar