Football craze rears Indian head

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> It's everywhere: in the streets, at the markets, on the fields, in your food and staring right at your face.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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New Delhi:

It's everywhere: in the streets, at the markets, on the fields, in your food and staring right at your face. World cup fever has not only caught on with the Indian football fans but also with Indian consumers. You may have to pay for the vegetables you buy, but you'll get all the football news for free. Praveen Sachdeva lives, talks and breathes football. A perfect example of how the telecast of the English premier league has probably converted just a few cricket fans into football ones. "The most attacking player is Ronaldinho. He's even better than Ronaldo. Adriano and Kaka are also among the top players in Brazil. But if Rooney gets fit, then I think Rooney would be the best player in the World cup," said Sachdeva. With that kind of passion on display it's not surprising World Cup merchandising is big business even in India. An official team jersey from Nike sells for as much as Rs 2500. Football fever has hit India in a big way. If you find the branded products expensive, no problem. There are enough markets all over India who have the same products at a fraction of the price. At Sarojini Nagar in New Delhi, colourful t-shirts with football teams priced at just fifty rupees are available. Ranging from Rs 200- 400, you'll even find a variety of team jerseys, with those of Team Brazil and Team England definitely topping the charts in popularity. Biggest beneficiaries People are very conscious that the World Cup is coming and apart from the jerseys, wristbands and mobile bands have also come out along with a lot of other accessories. However the biggest beneficiaries of the beautiful games seem to be TV manufacturers. Sales of TV apparently go up by at least 20-30 per cent. "We were anticipating a 30 per cent growth on an all India level and as far as the key markets of West Bengal and Kerala are concerned, we were looking at 80 per cent growth compared to our performance last year. We have been pleasantly surprised that we have already overshot our targets in our May sales itself," said Ashutosh Saxena, GM, Samsung India. Television companies in India hope to increase sales by more then 20 per cent across the board. ESPN-STAR Sports sells more than Rs 57 crore worth of advertising for the WC. A record 2,000 of Emirates WC packages have been sold till now with LIVE viewing of the matches even during the flight. The global mobile market is set to grow worth $300 million over the tournament. TRPs from the last edition suggest that big matches can be as watched as some of the soaps but unlike cricket research indicates that its mainly men who watch football in India. So FIFA's official sponsors like McDonalds are certainly going all out on their marketing campaigns but for others the cricket world cup is still a better bet since you don't need any research to check that men, women and children are watching in metros and everywhere else.

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