FIFA can learn from the IPL: Modi

IPL commissioner Lalit Modi is ready for Saturday's opening ceremony and said the speed of preparations should inspire FIFA.

updated: April 17, 2009 18:23 IST
  • Total Shares

Cape Town:

IPL commissioner Lalit Modi is ready for Saturday's opening ceremony and said the speed of preparations should inspire FIFA in its struggles to organize football's Confederations Cup in June and the 2010 World Cup.

The Twenty20 Indian Premier League was hastily moved out of India just over three weeks ago for security reasons as the dates clashed with general elections. But organizers believe they've met the logistical challenges of preparing eight stadiums at short notice, booking thousands of hotel rooms, and laying on extra flights into South Africa.

"FIFA has been working here for 8 years, we have been here for 22 days," Modi said on Thursday. "I hope they learn from us. We will have a carnival that we will talk about and remember."

The eight-team, 59-match tournament will bring a touch of Bollywood glamour to South Africa as world cricket's biggest names team up with movie stars. Indian megastar Shah Rukh Khan owns the Kolkata Knight Riders, while actresses Shilpa Shetty and Preity Zinta are the respective co-owners of the Rajasthan Royals and the Kings XI Punjab franchises.

"In this time in recession, the two things that won't go out of style are entertainment and sport, and it is great for us," Shetty said.

The players include leading test run-scorer Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai Indians), former England captain Kevin Pietersen (Royal Challengers Bangalore), South Africa skipper Graeme Smith and former Australia legspinner Shane Warne (Rajasthan Royals).

"In India, cricket and film are religions and the blending of the two is quite exciting," Zinta said.

The IPL is already the world's richest cricket league and Modi hopes to emulate English football's Premier League by attracting the very best players and a multinational array of supporters from all over the world.

Modi said hosting the tournament in South Africa was a "huge opportunity to build up the IPL as a global brand" and would bring in an additional 1.5 billion to 2 billion rands ($150-200 million) to the local economy.

Tourism bosses are happy an extra 40,000 hotel rooms have been booked at what is normally a quiet time of year, and hope that the country's image in India _ as yet an untapped market _ will receive a massive boost.

The local film industry hopes the presence of Bollywood greats will sell Cape Town as a film venue. The city has developed an international reputation for making commercials and feature films _ Clint Eastwood is currently directing a film featuring Morgan Freeman as former South African President Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the Springbok captain who led his team to the 1995 World Cup at home and who gave his jersey to Mandela in a gesture which helped heal the wounds of apartheid.

Pienaar was heavily involved in organizing the IPL and has paid tribute to South African authorities for easing preparations.

Security forces are already on high alert ahead of South Africa's general elections, which take place on Wednesday, but police said they were confident the tournament would pass without incident _ the high level of crime is a concern for football's World Cup.

"The ability of the South African security forces to safeguard major events has been internationally recognized with 141 international events having taken place in South Africa since 1994 without any serious incident," police said in a statement.