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Okocha Joins Other Stars To Feature In Indian Soccer Competion

Channels Television  
Updated January 17, 2012

Italy’s World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, former Argentina skipper Juan Pablo Sorin Frenchman Robert Pires are set to feature in an Indian soccer competition that hopes to replicate the success of cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL).

Jay Jay Okocha

Some 30 players and six coaches from abroad will be auctioned off in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata for the Feb 25-April 8 league, one of the organisers told Reuters.

“We have signed seven ‘icon’ players for the auction and each of the six teams will have one such player with a $600 000 salary cap,” Bhaswar Goswami, executive director of Celebrity Management Group (CMG), said by telephone.

Other signed-up players – all at the end of their careers – include Portuguese midfielder Maniche, former Nigeria international Jay-Jay Okocha, ex-Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler, former Spain striker Fernando Morientes and Argentine Hernan Crespo.

CMG has signed a 30-year deal with the Indian Football Association for the league and has floated tenders for franchises, Goswami said.

“We have started with six teams this year, all in the state of West Bengal but have already been approached to expand the league to other parts of the country.

“Every team will have $2.5 million to spend in the first year. They will have a maximum of four foreigners and a compulsory six under-21 Indian players in their squad.”

Cricket’s IPL dazzled fans with its exciting Twenty20 format, player auctions, post-game parties and heavy advertising and now soccer – which has failed to produce top-class Indian players – is poised for a similar makeover.

“The league is modelled on Major League Soccer and of course IPL,” Goswami added.

“We saw the hype and buzz around players’ auction in IPL and feel it can be an equal success. It’s a brilliant concept. We expect owners to make profit much earlier than the IPL franchises.

“We are also in the process of finalising television rights for live broadcast across south-east Asia.”