On the 25th of March, India locked horns with Oman in an international friendly at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Stadium in Dubai. The Indian National Football Team was back in action after a long gap of almost 500 days.
“Apna football ka apna channel “– a tag boasted by Star Sports 3, the football-based channel which shows no football. Star Sports (rather Star Cricket), had refused to acquire the rights for India’s international friendlies.
Finally, Eurosport were decided as the official broadcasting partner for the India vs Oman match. “I am happy to announce that we have associated with Eurosport India as the official broadcaster for the upcoming FIFA international friendly matches of Team India. They are one of the most promising broadcasters and we look forward to performing well and giving the audience spectacular matches in the coming days.”, said Kushal Das, the general secretary of AIFF (All India Football Federation).
Much to everyone’s disappointment, there was no live telecast on Indian television. In spite of all the promises, Eurosport did not telecast the game and blamed technical issues for the outcome. A day after the matchday, AIFF and Eurosport expressed “regret” for not being able to telecast the game.
AIFF, Wake Up!
AIFF and Eurosport received heavy criticism from the fans for not televising the game. #AIFFwakeup is now trending on Twitter with fans all over the country questioning the competency of AIFF president Praful Patel. Wanting to watch your national team play should not be too much to ask for. Imagine waiting for almost 500 days to see the Blue Tigers in action and finally, when you switch on the TV, you see a local cricket league being telecasted.
Thanks to Oman Sports TV’s streaming on YouTube and Twitter, lakhs of Indians could finally watch the Indian National Team in action. Oman Sports TV had over 500 thousand live viewers even though most of the Indian fans got to know about the makeshift post kick-off.
Indian national team’s fan group Blue Pilgrims tweeted, “For all those who paid for a subscription, for all those who hoped you’d watch the national team play. For all those who live in the hope that enjoying football in your country doesn’t need to be a struggle? Who do you trust? #AIFFwakeup.”
India have seen a sharp rise in football fans in the past few years and the numbers are only increasing. The sorry state of Indian fans is concerning. What is the governing body of association football in India, AIFF doing? Does Praful Patel really care about the development of Indian football or is AIFF just a means of earning more for him?
Are the Reliance-led FSDL (Football Sports Development Limited) taking a toll on the development of Indian football? A lot of questions arise after the disappointing 25th evening. We are preaching #LetsFootball in a country where we can’t even have a proper live telecast for the national team’s matches. Indian football deserves more. The Indian fans deserve more. AIFF, wake up!