Why football is not so popular as cricket in India
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Football, the game that has captivated millions around the world, seems to have a hard time gaining traction in India. With cricket being the national obsession and football taking a backseat, it raises an interesting question- why isn't football as popular as cricket? Despite its massive global presence and considerable popularity in other parts of Asia, Indian football struggles to make headway.
Though there are a number of reasons why football is not as popular as cricket in India.
Firstly, cricket is a national sport in India, whereas football is not. This means that cricket receives more media attention and investment than football does.
Secondly, cricket is played all year round in India, whereas football is not. This means that people have more opportunities to watch and play cricket than they do football.
The unrivaled popularity of cricket in India is one of the main reasons why football is underappreciated in the country. India is a nation that lives, breathes, and eats cricket; Cricketers are regarded as gods and cricket as a religion. With two World Cup victories (1983 and 2011), the Indian cricket team is regarded as one of the best in the world and has enjoyed a great deal of success over the years. In contrast, the Indian football team last achieved significant success when it won a gold medal at the Asian Games in 1962. The two narratives contrast when compared.
The first is a tale of rags-to-riches, whereas the second is the complete opposite. Most of the time, success in sports is inversely correlated with popularity. the reason why clubs like Manchester United and Barcelona have such a large international fan base. It is impossible to dispute the fact that the Indian football team has, time and time again, failed to pique the interest of the general public. The poor standard of football played in India alienates the general public. The cause has also been hindered by inadequate infrastructure and financing.
However, Indian viewers became familiar with the high-octane football of foreign leagues like the English Premier League after the introduction of cable television in the middle of the 1990s. 80 million people in India currently watch football. Even though competitions like East Bengal vs. Mohun Bagan are hugely popular in their respective regions, they don't attract a lot of spectators nationwide.
This is due to the fact that football is of poor quality, that viewers prefer the flair and excellence of an El Classico, a Manchester Derby, or even a Merseyside Derby, and that viewers are unable to relate to the very essence of the rivalry—the so-called "Bangal and Ghoti divide," to which only Bengalis can relate (Bangals are people who came from Bangladesh after the partition, while Ghotis are the actual residents of West Bengal).
The country's preference for cricket over football is also due to the climate. Football, which is physically more demanding than the majority of sports, is extremely difficult to play for 90 minutes in India due to the climate. Cricket, on the other hand, does not call for any particular equipment on your part.
If I talk about the future of football in India, it is actually shrouded in uncertainty. The sport has seen a decline in popularity in recent years, with cricket dominating the sporting landscape. Football faces stiff competition from other sports such as kabaddi and badminton, which are also popular in India. There is no clear path forward for the sport, and it remains to be seen if football can regain its prominence in India. Nevertheless, there are some hopeful signs, such as the increasing popularity of the Indian Super League, which could help to revive interest in the sport.
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