Politics on the nets

The first taste of hype, frenzy and big money is enough to start the bickering in Indian football.

updated: November 30, 2007 08:12 IST
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The first taste of hype, frenzy and big money is enough to start the bickering in Indian football. On one hand the football associations, who say, big, cash-rich corporate clubs much take the lead in bringing in finances.

So, much of football politics is played out invisibly. And even now, the promise of more money coming in has already triggered a fresh wave of controversy.

''We need clubs to support us, clubs and industrialists who have the funds,'' said Savio Messias, Secretary, Goa Football Association.

And on the other hand, the rich clubs, who feel it is the All India Football Federation (AIFF), that should now share its revenues with them.

''We want the AIFF to share revenue with us. We fund all alone. We want a share of TV rights and other sponsorships, since the league is happening because of us," said Srinivas Dempo Chairman, Dempo Sports Club.

So, unlike cricket, the contrasts in Indian football are stark. The few rare stars of Indian football get paid between Rs 30 lakh to Rs 60 lakh a year.

The biggest one of them all, Baichung Bhutia, gets even higher according to reliable information.
The stars do get sustained television coverage, sponsor and an increased prize money. But some real grassroot heroes live in one room hutments and sleep on floors.

Lakshmikant Kattimani is the goalkeeper of the India 19 team, whose father is a labourer and mother, a housemaid, who works in plush bungalows in Cansaulim.

There is yet another example, this Vasco player started getting 20,000 a month from this year. The money which has got his family its first television set, and he, his first ever vehicle, a motorcycle.
Some of his own club mates get ten to fifteen times the amount, and live in homes, the kind in which his mother works.

''I want to work hard and be the most promising player in the country," said Lakshmikant Kattimani.
None of the hardships seems to have crushed the spirit of this young player.