5 Reasons for Football Not Being Popular in India

There was a time when football was the most popular sport in India. Believe it or not, it was a national sport of India.

So far, the Indian Football team made Indians proud by winning Gold in the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games. Sadly, the Indian team hasn’t seen any glory days since then.

Here, we’ll try to understand the downfall of the popularity of the beautiful sport football. We have researched the top reasons why football is not as popular in India as it used to be.

History of Football Sport in India

Before delving into reasons that dampened the popularity of football, let’s take some time out to remember and appreciate our Indian team who made all of us proud. We’ll also try to understand how and when Football was introduced on Indian soil.

Football was first introduced by Britishers in the 1800s. There was a period in history when football was celebrated as a national sport in India. It was mainly played by army professionals to stay fit and healthy. Calcutta soon became a football hub in India and it still is. The Durand Cup, founded by the Indian Foreign Society, is the third-oldest football tournament all over the world.

Hopefully, this inspired you more towards this prestigious sport.

5 Top Factors Holding Back Football’s Popularity in India

In a nation fervently passionate about sports, football has struggled to claim a formidable stake in India’s sporting landscape. Despite its global acclaim, the “beautiful game” faces unique challenges hindering widespread popularity on Indian grounds. From cricket’s dominant legacy to cultural nuances and infrastructure gaps, there are different factors influencing football’s journey in this diverse nation. This introspective exploration unveils five intriguing elements that have played a pivotal role in shaping football’s narrative in India, shedding light on the hurdles it faces and the potential pathways toward a more prominent status in the hearts of Indian sports enthusiasts. Now, let’s dive into reasons why football is not popular in India as it is around the globe.

1) Cricket’s Over Popularity

Currently, cricket is undoubtedly the most popular sport in India. And it’s stealing all the limelight when it comes to sports entertainment in India. Cricket took a rise in popularity after Indian cricket won the Cricket World Cup in 1983 against West Indies under the captainship of Kapil Dev.

All the newspapers, radio, and broadcast channels started sharing good words for Cricket. And since newspapers and radios were the most popular channels to communicate news and entertainment. Cricket soon became widely popular among the majority of Indians and since then, there’s no looking back.

At this point, cricket is considered a religion, and cricketers representing India in the field are the gods that rule the hearts of millions. This substantial popularity of cricket is one of the reasons for football not being able to make a comeback in the streets of India.

2) Lack of Funding and Sponsorship

Due to the low popularity of football in India, big companies and corporations remain skeptical about investing in football events and tournaments. Due to this, AIFF, NGOs, and organizations passionate about football fall short in organizing high-level football tournaments and events.

Lack of popularity not only hinders funding and sponsorship, but it also has an after-effect on low budgets for infrastructure development, equipment, jerseys like Napoli jersey home, and hiring top-level coaches to provide standard coaching required by the players.

3) Scarcity of Role Models

We don’t mean to undermine the legacy of Indian football stars. Our Indian team has some of the most talented footballers in the world. Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri, to name some. But when we look at the overall performance of our team, it’s nowhere near the international standards.

This scarcity of role models draws youth back from taking risks and choosing football as their full-time career. India needs more players that represent India on the international stage that’ll inspire young youth towards football.

4) Limited Marketing and Promotion

Have you ever seen an advertorial promoting football? It’s very unlikely that you would have. Because AIFF and other state organizations can’t spend on marketing to promote football in the mainstream of India.

On the other hand, BCCI is one of the richest sports organizations in the world. They regularly organize and promote cricket, elevating marketing standards every year with the Indian Premier League, making it hard for other sports to enter the landscape of India’s mainstream media.

This issue of cricket dominance can be eradicated if more and more people take an interest in other globally important sports like football.

5) Corruption in AIFF

Another huge issue that has strangled football in shackles is corruption by the higher authorities sitting in higher positions at AIFF and other football authorities like the India Football Federation.

Top-level politicians are highly involved in AIFF, making it difficult for AIFF to make independent decisions that may be beneficial in flourishment of football in India.

Due to this, on 15 August 2022, FIFA suspended AIFF for violating its regulation of non-involvement of parties. This India is off from hosting the international tournament in India.

Future of Football in India

Even after these many drawbacks, the future of football is looking promising in India. Now, there are numerous high-level national events taking place in India including the Indian Super League (ISL) and many other football leagues taking place in football-dominant states like Kerala, Goa, and West Bengal. Hence, we can confidently say that slowly but steadily football culture is seeping into the nerves of the Indian audience.

 Final Thoughts

In the end, football has a lot to cover when it comes to popularity and representation on the international stage. Our young players need well-established grassroots to develop their football skills and flourish at an international platform. Despite all the problems, India and young Indian talent are doing their best to make our country’s name proud and they have our best wishes!

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