Football can compete with cricket in India: Vijayan

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Dubai, Oct 1 (UNI) Football does have a future in India and can compete with cricket, said former football player IM Vijayan.

Vijayan, who is now involved in the film industry, insisted that football was not a lost cause in India.

''Cricket is the number one sport but most of their money comes from the corporate world. Even today, small tournaments held in towns in Kerala are so successful that organisers make over Rs 500,000 only through gate collections,'' said the former Indian captain, who was in Abu Dhabi as a guest of Abu Dhabi Shakthi Theatres.

''But that amount comes down drastically when international and national level events are held which means all is not well.'' But he said football needs to address issues within the game including the development of young talent.

''Another major drawback is the lack of football academies.

Apart from the Tata Football Academy there are not many who can run and sustain themselves,'' he said.

Viajayn added, ''One more reason why football is lagging behind in India is many top players prefer to give their best for the clubs rather than the country. In football, the money is there if you play for clubs. In contrast, cricketers make more money when they play for the country and there is hardly any money at club level.

''Though the I-League allows three foreign players per club, so far we have not seen quality players come.

''If they do then we can expect the Indian players to learn and improve from them. Right now, it is the other way round,'' said Vijayan.

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