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Global football heavyweights root for India’s bullish sports market and entrepreneurial opportunities

“If India wants to create something big and long-term with real value, they need to invest in facilities, infrastructure, teams and, of course in coaches,” expressed Italy’s football legend Mr. Alessandro Del Piero

RCB Innovation Lab’s Leaders Meet India

Mr. Nic Coward (centre) and Mr. Will Brass (right) speaking at RCB Innovation Lab’s Leaders Meet India


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 30 Nov 2023 8:28 AM GMT

Global stakeholders from the world of football expressed their optimism regarding the emergence of India as a rising sporting market at the RCB Innovation Lab’s Leaders Meet India on Wednesday in Bengaluru.

Mr. Nic Coward who is the Former General Secretary of the Premier League and CEO of UK Athletics is one of the few global football experts at the country’s first-of-its-kind summit promises to offer a panoramic view of the present and future of the sports industry, advocating and providing insights into the transformative elements that are propelling India into a new era of sporting excellence and business innovation.

Talking about the economically burgeoning sporting industry of India, Mr. Nic Coward stated, “This (India) is the single greatest sports growth economy story anywhere in the world and will be for a considerable period of time. I think one of the great advantages that (India) has is that a lot of this entrepreneurial spirit can go from an idea through to execution pretty quickly. ISL doing what they did in order to grow and to develop created a compelling entertainment product. As things have progressed, there can now be greater coming together of an entire ecosystem.”

By bringing together titans from the international sporting world, RCB Innovation Lab starting with the Leader’s Meet: India is creating a participative platform where influential dialogues and the exchange of innovative ideas become center stage.

The Premier League enjoys a substantial fan base in India with interest growing especially among the emerging middle class in the country. The average age of an adult Premier League fan in India is 34.5 years while 39% are aged 25-34.

Mr. Will Brass the Chief Commercial Officer of the English Premier League citing Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh as a key figure in expanding the popularity of Premier League in India said, “Ranveer Singh has been really critical for us in understanding the market. We have been working with him since 2017. He is an authentic fan of the game, an authentic fan of the league, and has delivered a great deal, growing the India-specific social media audiences that we have via the PLO India, social tags here.”

According to a YouGov survey last year, India enjoys a total of 160 million football enthusiasts.

Italy’s 2006 FIFA World Cup champion Alessandro Del Piero who has enthralled the passionate footballing fans of India during his stint at Delhi Dynamos also shared his thoughts on how India can become a football powerhouse at the event.

“In order to become better, you definitely need to start from the grassroots. If you want to create something big and long-term with real value, you need to invest in facilities, infrastructure and the teams and, of course in coaches. Grassroots is the key, to everything because children learn so fast and much better than us. If you build the academies then you can teach them the right things because talent is everywhere, in India and in every country in the world,” said Mr. Alessandro Del Piero.

The President of the All India Football Federation Mr. Kalyan Chaubey who was also part of the RCB Innovation Lab’s Leaders Meet India on the first day spoke about the growth market of Indian football, “India has opportunity business-wise because we have 1/6 population in this world and also the largest population. I have spoken with FIFA several times and the President of FIFA and myself, are on the same page that India has huge potential to develop.”

RCB Innovation Lab Leaders Meet: India will conclude today (November 30).

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