In a deal that could change the fate of football in India, Zee Sports has signed a 10-year contract with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to telecast and market all domestic and some international matches played by India during this period. Zee Sports won the contract in an open bidding exercise.
And the timing could not have been better when the cricket-obsessed nation knows where its favourite sport is heading. In fact, Subhash Chandra, Chairman, Zee Telefilms, made his intensions clear. “It’s time we came out of our cricket obsession. A billion people-strong nation should also look to other sports. We have become a cricketing nation, not a sporting nation. Zee, on its part, will use its vast resources to make football a national game.”
Under the contract, starting with the National League of Football, scheduled at Goa from October 19, Zee Sports will telecast approximately 100 matches live and exclusive from all major domestic football tournaments.
Declining to reveal the figure for which the contract was signed, AIFF President, Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, said, “It is more than double of any of our previous contracts.” He further said that, “Our goal is to make Indian football one of the most fan-friendly leagues in the world, and we have taken a major step towards that with Zee Sports. With more matches being shown live, and with reputed commentators presenting the game in a viewer-friendly format, the popularity of the sport will increase significantly.”
Chandra also asserted, “Within one year’s time Zee Sports will be the second sports channel in India, if not first.”
Talking to Exchange4media, Gary Lovejoy, COO, Zee Sports, said, “After signing of this contract, the main focus of the channel will be soccer for some time. But we are looking at some other non-cricket sports contracts, too.”