The Premier League Soccer (PLS) was announced with a big bang in January under the watchful eyes of not only the Indian football fraternity, but also world football! The news of a new Indian league with veteran superstars of the game made the headlines on a global stage. But the initial positive headlines have turned into headlines, which bring Indian football into derision.
The PLS was originally scheduled to kick-off in February/March with six franchised city teams competing in a seven week long league tournament in the Indian state of West Bengal. Former superstars of the beautiful game like Hernán Crespo, Fabio Cannovaro, Robert Pirès, Augustine “Jay Jay” Okocha and Robbie Fowler were auctioned to the franchises on January 30.
But the Celebrity Management Group (CWG), organisers of the PLS along with the Indian Football Association (IFA), had to postpone the kick-off due to various reasons. The foreign players and coaches were left in the dark for a while and questions were raised about the future of the league even before the inaugural season.
The whole concept and execution of the PLS has confused the media, players, officials and fans, who were not so familiar with Indian football. Especially the global community has received a wrong impression of the new league.
Most foreign media, officials and fans thought the Premier League Soccer would be a new Indian national league replacing the I-League. The Indian Football Association, the governing body of football in West Bengal, was understood as the governing body of Indian football due to the name of the body.
It has been learnt that the PLS might kick-off its inaugural season in October or November this year, but nothing has been confirmed so far. All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das stated at the Soccerex European Forum last week that the PLS wouldn’t happen this season at all. One has to wait and see how CWG and IFA will manage the future of the new PLS, with many of the foreign players and coaches left without an assignment at the moment. Most of them will be looking to get back to the pitch or bench at earliest, if they don’t get any final call from India!
But the biggest concern to me has already started to spread like wildfire: The delay and chaos around the PLS has reached the global media and the headlines are already making their way to the households. “Football in India – a deliberate confusion”, “Messy Indian League” or “Indian league turns into a farce” are just a few of the headlines in the recent days.
The PLS was launched with the aim to promote Indian football with an IPL-style glamour league. But it seems like we have reached a critical point, where Indian football could lose its face in front of the world.
One can only hope that all problems and irritations will be solved at earliest and Indian football in general will come out of this situation without a major damage to its image and future!