New Delhi- Taking a cue from its larger Eastern neighbour, sports officials in India are mulling making football the India National Sport. Currently, hockey is the national sport and cricket is most followed sport; but football does not feature in either. The officials want to change that, but why?
China has made big news in recent years by buying prominent football clubs across UK and Europe. If you thought the Chinese wanted to profit from the game’s following in Europe, you are slightly mistaken.
China aspires to use this connection to European football talent to improve the standard of play inside China. Not only will it help nurture local talent, but the number of tournaments and leagues formed in China as a result will create thousands of jobs of local Chinese. Plus, if the great footballers from Europe also play in China under player-exchange agreements, it will fill up the stadium seats.
But the real reason is not just this. It is a much bigger objective. It is not just about football, but of wider political importance for China.
It so happens that most of the powerful nations in the world are all football playing nations. If China wants to cement its position in this league of big nations, it feels it should also be a top name in football. If the big boys of the world play football, so will China. In this way, China’s name will always feature in the same league as the most powerful nations on earth.
An example is the G-7 list of countries, which includes the big boys of North America, West Europe and Japan. Even China aspires to be counted when newspapers talk of the big nations. Thus, it’s a huge effort of its global branding.
It is just like most business deals are struck on the golf-course, and many business executives learn golf just so they are also on the golf course in case business is also discussed. In the same way, it seems many big political decisions are struck amongst the powerful nations in football pavilions. If China aspires to cement its place further in the global political arena, being a top football playing nation may be one of the ways to get there.
This holds a lesson for India, in case it also aspires to be counted amongst the big nations of the world! That is why the sports officials are thinking to make it the country’s national sport, in case it gives the necessary impetus to push the standard of the game even further.