NFL season kicks off on Friday

Updated: 22 March 2007 06:37 IST

The 11th NFL begins on Friday, but fans may not be all that enthusiastic this time around, especially after India's dismal performance in 2006.

New Delhi:

The 11th National Football League begins on Friday, but fans may not be all that enthusiastic this time around, especially after India's dismal performance in 2006. The national team has slumped to an all-time low of 157th out of 198 in the FIFA rankings and are at 32nd-place among the 46 Asian countries. But the President of the All India Football Federation Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi says there's nothing to worry about. He says India has slumped because more countries are now playing football. "In 1996, the number of FIFA members rose to 204, and that's why we fell in the rankings. Also because we have played more 'A' level matches and friendlies against lower-ranked opponents," Dasmunshi told the press. The organisers have also failed to attract a major sponsor from the private sector once again and consequently the overall and individual prize-money remains the same as last season. "Yes, without doubt, the private players have stayed away again. But we must remember that we, or in fact no one, has the divine right to their money. We have to pitch our product properly and make it more attractive, in order to draw them in," said Gary Lovejoy, COO, ZEE Sports. "I don't see it as a major problem, really. ONGC and we have a special relationship. The private-sector firms have expressed interest to be associate sponsors, and we will see more of them now," added Satish Menon, President, Sponsorships and Business Development, ZEE Telefilms. The most noticeable thing about the League last season was the slick packaging, complete with foreign commentators, cheerleaders and lots of razzmatazz. But what remained the same was the below-average standard of play. Interestingly, the first match will be held in Delhi on January 5, even though no side from the capital has made it to the top-flight again. And Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself will inaugurate the 11th NFL as he continues to show interest in the game. He had earlier spoken to the Brazilian Prime Minister about improving Indian football.

Topics : Football Bayern Munchen
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