Crespo costliest player in Indian football auction

Former Argentina striker Hernan Crespo was the most expensive

player in an auction on Monday for an inaugural Indian football

league based on the successful IPL cricket tournament.

Crespo was bought for his base price of $840,000 by Barasat, one

of the five city franchises which will play in the Premier League

Soccer tournament to be held in the eastern state of West Bengal in

March-April this year.

Italy’s World Cup-winning captain, Fabio Cannavaro, was the next

most expensive after costing Siliguri $830,000.

Former France midfielder player Robert Pires went to Howrah for

$800,000, Nigerian playmaker Jay Jay Okocha to Durgapur for

$550,000 and ex-England striker Robbie Fowler was taken by Kolkata

for $530,000.

Apart from these five ”icon” players which had to sign for

different teams, other overseas footballers who were the objects of

bids included Nigerian defender Robert Egbeta (Kolkata, $350,000)

and midfielder Christian Lara of Ecuador (Barasat, $200,000).

All teams also received a foreign coach – Fernando Couto of

Portugal (Howrah, $240,000), Samson Siasia of Nigeria (Durgapur,

$210,000), Teitur Thordorson of Iceland (Barasat, $210,000), Peter

Reid of England ($200,000) and Marco Etcheverry of Bolivia

(Siliguri, $200,000).

Teams have a salary cap of $2.5 million.

The league is organized by a company called Celebrity Management

Group and the Indian Football Association and is expected to boost

the popularity of the sport by giving local players a chance to

learn from top professionals and experienced coaches.

”The response has been fabulous considering this is a new

idea,” CMG executive director Bhaswar Goswami said. ”We’ll now

have another auction on Feb. 2 for Indian players.”

The tournament was originally planned to have six teams but the

city franchise of Haldia failed to find any financial backers

Organizers also said they would announce new dates for the

tournament, which was originally due to be held from Feb. 25 to

April 8 but is now expected to begin in mid-March.

Indian football has been in the news lately despite its national

team being ranked a lowly 158th by FIFA.

India qualified for the 2011 Asian Cup by winning a competition

for second-tier nations and had also reached the second round of

Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup before losing to the United

Arab Emirates.

National body All India Football Federation, which runs its own

competition called the I-League, has also managed to bring in some

money to the game lately.

IMG-Reliance – a partnership between IMG Worldwide and Indian

company Reliance Industries Ltd. – signed a 15-year deal in 2010

worth $140 million for all commercial rights to promote and market

football in the India.

Foreign clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Bayern

Munich have also been organizing activities and planning academies

in the country in a bid to increase their fan base in this

cricket-crazy country of 1.2 billion.