Former Chelsea and Barcelona veteran Deco had to pull out of the Premier Futsal 2016 competition in India owing to an injury, but that hasn't taken out any anticipation from the first-ever event of this sort in the country. The new list of marquee players announced to play a part in the competition on Tuesday is nothing but huge.
Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs, who recently parted ways from the Premier League side after a stay of close to three decades, will be seen in action in India. Unbelievable, but that is exactly what is on the menu.
While Giggs will not play alongside long-time teammate and old friend Paul Scholes in the Premier Futsal as two marquee players cannot play in the same team, the mere sight of seeing these two Red Devils legends brushing shoulders while playing for different teams, will be an everlasting experience for football fans in India. Giggs, 42, will be playing for the Mumbai side, and Scholes, 41, will ply his trade for the Bengaluru side.
Not 90 minutes, but even the mere thought of watching these two veterans cook up their magic during the regulatory 40 minutes of allotted time for Futsal, will be unforgettable.
One of the greatest footballers from Brazil, Ronaldinho was also announced as the latest acquisition by the Premier Futsal and the news only makes the tournament get the much-needed eyeballs with the competition set for a start in just three days' time. The former Barcelona superstar was linked with the Indian Super League from the very beginning, but what ISL couldn't, Premier Futsal did it.
Hernan Crespo is also named another of the marquee players.
Here is the full list of teams and their marquee players:
|Team name||Marquee player|
|Mumbai 5s||Ryan Giggs|
|Kolkata 5s||Hernan Crespo|
|Bengaluru 5s||Paul Scholes|
|Kochi 5s||Michel Salgado|
|Chennai 5s||Falcao (Alessandro Vieira)|
The big names are here. However, what needs to be seen now first and foremost is whether Premier Futsal can really operate well with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) already calling it a derecognised competition. The Premier Futsal officials had to come with a statement earlier in the day mentioning that the AIFF cannot decide which events will take place in the nation.
Premier Futsal is a semi-professional, private league and is in collaboration with Futsal Association of India (FAI), which falls under The Asociación Mundial de Futsal (AMF). Premier Futsal obtains technical support from the AMF which has been the world governing body for Futsal since 1971. Globally, the AMF and FIFA co-exist.
The FAI, a recognized sports body, is the only entity that has been working towards the development of Futsal in India - and for 8 years. Premier Futsal does not need the sanction or authorization of the AIFF, and does not intend to poach players etc. - there are anyway no registered Futsallers there. Conducting a Semi-professional league is fully permissible legally in our democracy and has been validated by legal experts at our end.
As entrepreneurs, we were pursuing our Honorary Prime Minister's call for innovation in Entrepreneurship and through Premier Futsal we are introducing one of the world's fastest growing sport to India. The high-handed and negative approach of the AIFF is appalling and is a blatant attempt to use its clout to stunt the progress of Entrepreneurship in the field of Sports.
Moreover, legal precedence states that one entity cannot have monopoly over a particular sport. Neither AIFF nor any sporting authority can claim to be sole custodians of a sport in India."
All that remains to be seen now is whether the big names including Luis Figo, the mastermind of the entire competition, Virat Kohli, brand ambassador of Premier Futsal in India, as well as the host of marquee names can lure the AIFF to take a backseat and let the fans enjoy what is set as mouthwatering platter.
The tournament is scheduled for a July 15 start. Players from across 21 countries are slated to take part in the competition. Three international players, one international marquee player and one Indian player will comprise the five-member teams.