Is ISL a Success in India
Indian Super League

✍️ Vaibhaw Tiwary

🗓️ May 15, 2024

India is a country where cricket has ruled the sporting front for several decades now. Sports like Hockey, Tennis, and other Olympic sports have their limelight occasionally. Still, none of them could outshine the glitter and glamour of cricket—not even the most beautiful game, Football.

To change these dynamics, the Indian Super League was introduced in 2013. Loosely replicating the model followed in the foreign leagues of the West, ISL was seen as a ground for the development of Indian football. But has it lived to its name? Let’s find out.

ISL: Igniting Passion and Transforming Indian Football Landscape

Alsessandro Del Piero in ISL

There’s no denying the initial success. Launched in 2014, the ISL featured marquee foreign players like Alessandro Del Piero and Robert Pirès, attracting record-breaking television audiences (reaching 460 million viewers in 2019 as per BARC) and igniting a passion for football unseen before.

As a result, ISL has turned out to be a business triumph, a goldmine, in fact. The tournament has seen franchise valuation skyrocket, sponsorships pour in, and corporates like Reliance invest heavily in the league. However, this has also led to criticism, with some calling it a money-minting machine. Critics argue that the league has benefited only a select few while neglecting grassroots football development in India.

One major boost ISL has brought to Indian football is the quality of its players. Since many international players are coming in, Indian footballers are pushed to keep up with them, resulting in Indian players playing better football.

In addition, teams like Bengaluru FC, among others, have dedicated their time and effort to youth academies. Their focus is to consistently produce young talents who will later play for the club and perhaps the country as well.

Bengaluru FC youth academy

Today, the Indian Super League is recognised by the Asian Football Confederation as the biggest football league in the country. It acts as the gateway for the Indian team’s participation in the AFC Champions League, where teams from all over Asia collide.

The Indian Super League’s success is measured by financial gains and its transformative impact on Indian football. At a crossroads, the ISL could shape the sport’s future in India.It has the potential to nurture grassroots football, develop homegrown talent, and elevate the sport’s popularity to new heights, promising a brighter and more competitive future for Indian football.

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