football in india

Why Is Football In India Not Popular? – All You Need to Know

Football arrived in India relatively late in comparison to other sports. In contrast to cricket, which is the second most popular and widely practiced sport, football was not popular in India. It was introduced 100 years later.

The first cricket club in India was established in 1795. After cricket, which was hugely popular in this country from the start, came rugby, and the English introduced field hockey to India. This was quickly declared a national sport. International matches were first played in India in 1895.

The Beginning of Football in India 

Football is thought to have started in India at the end of the 19th century. According to records, the first game was played in 1854. The clubs that were initially formed were primarily founded by the Englishmen who lived there.

the Durand cup:

The Durand Cup was India’s first football competition, held in 1888. This is also the oldest competition held outside of the United Kingdom. It was named after its founder, Mortimer Durand, who realized the importance of sport in maintaining good health while recovering from illness. Initially, this competition was only open to military teams.

Some time later, civilian teams could compete in football games. Five years have passed since the Durend Cup. IFA Sild, a new competition, has been established. The Indian Football Association was founded in 1893.

a triumph for freedom:

Until the Second World War, British teams dominated all of these competitions, winning the majority of the tournaments. In 1911, Indian nationalism was beginning to awaken, along with a desire to free the country from British rule. In the IFA Silda final, the Mohun Bagan team defeated the English team. For a long time, this victory was regarded as a victory for liberty.

Although football was not popular in India prior to this event, it has since grown in popularity. East Bengal is Mohun Bagan’s main rival, and this match is known as a Calcutta Derby. Over 131,000 people attended the game between these teams in 1997 at Salt Lake Stadium. These two clubs have won over 400 trophies combined.

Beginning of football in India

influence of the Indian national football team in India?

To begin, the Indian national football team competed in the 1948 Olympics. They had bad luck in that tournament. Because they were eliminated by a goal scored by the French team one minute before the end. What was interesting about that tournament was that the Indian national team played barefoot. This was India’s first international meeting since declaring independence from the UK.

hard-luck in the FIFA world cup:

The World Cup was held in Brazil two years later. This championship was supposed to have one Asian representative, and due to the withdrawal of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Burma, India was supposed to participate automatically.

However, FIFA decided that no national team could compete without equipment, so India decided not to participate in the tournament, despite the fact that football was not very popular in India. Unfortunately, India has never taken part in the world’s largest football festival.

First Successes for Football in India

In 1951, they won gold at the first Asian Cup in New Delhi. A year later, they were eliminated from the Olympic Games after a humiliating 1:10 loss to Yugoslavia. However, in 1956, the Indian national team achieved great success by reaching the Olympic Games semifinals in Melbourne. W

The Yugoslav national team once again proved fatal for them. Then again, who doesn’t? When they were eliminated in a group that included France, Peru, and Hungary.

Sayid Abdul Rahim | The Founder of Football in India

However, Sayid Abdul Rahim, the architect of India’s greatest successes during those years, died in 1963 after a long illness. This incident has never been forgotten in Indian football.

There was some success in the next 15 years, but India has not had any notable results for a long time because football was not popular in India. In their two previous appearances in the Asian Cup, in 1984 and 2011, they finished last in their groups.

Is Football in India Becoming More Popular Over the Years?

Cricket is by far the most popular sport in India, while football is far less popular. This was influenced by the impressive results of the men’s and women’s national cricket teams of India. Over 28 million people have visited India’s official cricket Facebook page.

cricket; a phenomenon in India:

The Indian Cricket League consists of nine professional clubs and 128 registered players. It is distinguished by its high quality and the marketing that accompanies this league. Regular television broadcasts, followed by the national team’s successes, enthralled the country. Cricket has a strong following among the people of India.

The league earned over $ 1.7 billion from the sale of clubs, television, and commercial rights in India during the first decade of the twenty-first century. Great competition organization and a professional league with extremely high player salaries have made this league extremely appealing to every player in attendance.

cricket over football?

Football is not popular in India and lagged far behind cricket in the previous period. Poor organization, semi-professional players who were far behind technically and tactically in comparison to their cricket colleagues, and the national team’s constant failures made this sport far less popular and appealing when compared to cricket.

Although football is the most popular sport in most countries, it has taken a long time in India to achieve this position. However, things have improved significantly in recent years, and football is now gaining popularity in India. It appears to be growing in popularity and progressing year after year.

Football was far behind not only cricket but also sports like field hockey and kabaddi, an Indian contact team sport, until about 15 years ago.

The National Football League & The I-League

failure of the national football league:

The first steps towards the popularization of football were made in 1996, which was the formation of the National Football League. However, even then, this league had a poor organization level and a low quality of football. The league included 12 clubs from various parts of the country.

Unfortunately, no progress was made over time, and the first step toward the professionalization of football failed. The idea of professionalizing the league, on the other hand, was not abandoned.

i-league; a hit in India:

This resulted in a comprehensive reform and the establishment of the I-League in 2006. As matches began to be broadcast on television, the league received a high-profile sponsor, and football began to spread slowly throughout the country.

Football In India Is Among 3 Most Popular Sports In Terms Of Viewership


The league began with ten teams, then twelve, and finally fourteen. Football has begun to threaten the long-standing popularity of cricket, and it is no longer possible to say that football is not popular in India. To achieve even greater popularity, some flaws, primarily related to the professionalism of coaches and players, had to be addressed.

The system was set up in such a way that the players and coaches actually worked for team-sponsored businesses. This also prevented them from working as full-time professionals.

football in india

The Indian Super League

The formation of the Indian Super League marked a watershed moment in the popularization of football in India. The IMG (International Management Group) company, which previously sponsored the league, has started discussions about professionalizing football and has signed a contract to organize the competition.

The Indian Super League was formed without consulting the Indian national federation, and it was not recognized by FIFA or the Asian Football Federation. For three years, Indian clubs competed in a separate system. Foreigners who began to visit India were quite appealing.

the arrival of western stars:

Soon, world stars like Paolo Cannavaro, Hernan Crespo, Robbie Fowler, and Robert Pires played in India, and the coach in the league was the former national team player of Portugal, Fernando Kouto. The Indians wanted to establish a respectable league and improve the image of football in their country. They didn’t skimp on spending to achieve that goal.

The league was originally scheduled to run for seven weeks, with matches taking place on Wednesdays and Saturdays during a break in the Indian National Championship.

the massive response from the Indian public:

Club owners were also sought among well-known actors, former great footballers, and other celebrities. 75 million viewers watched the new league game on TV screens in its first week. The first season drew 429 million viewers, which is an incredible number.

In 2014, this league drew three times as many viewers as the World Cup in Brazil. The average stadium attendance was 26 thousand people.

Most Popular Indian Footballers 

Gostha Pal

Gostha Pal is a household name in Indian football. Interestingly, he used to play football barefoot before football became popular in India, and he was regarded as one of India’s best defenders at the time.

Born in today’s Bangladesh in 1896, he was regarded as a fearless player, and his defending abilities earned him the moniker ‘The Chiner Pacheer’ (The Wall of China). He was also the first football player to receive the ‘Padma Shri’ award in 1962.

Peter Thangaraj

Peter Thangaraj is, without a doubt the best goalkeeper in Indian history and is frequently regarded as one of the best in Asia. He was India’s first goalkeeper for about a decade after making his debut in 1955. Thangaraj played for India both at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games and represented India at the 1958 Tokyo, 1962 Jakarta (where India won the gold), and 1966 Bangkok Asian Games. In 1958, he was named Asia’s Best Goalkeeper.

Subimal Chuni

Subimal Chuni Goswamy was a striker known for his ball control, passing, and game-reading. He was the captain of the Indian team which won the 1962 Asian Games at Jakarta and the silver medal in the Asia Cup Soccer tournament (1964) held in Israel.

Tottenham Hotspur approached him several times after his achievements at the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, but he eventually turned down the London club and remained loyal to his club Mohun Bagan.

Sunil Chhetri

Sunil Chhetri is the current captain of India’s national football team and the country’s most famous player. He is also the player with the most national team appearances and the top goal scorer of all time, with 51 goals in 91 appearances. His performance earned him a contract with the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2010 and a contract with Sporting Portugal’s B side in 2012.

He returned to India after two years in Portugal, where he led Bengaluru FC to two I-League titles. Chhetri has been named AIFF Player of the Year four times, in 2007, 2011, 2013, and 2014. Sunil Chhetri is widely regarded as the greatest footballer to have ever played for India.

football in india


The most important fact is that football’s popularity has spread throughout India, elevating it to the status of a sport played throughout the country. Even areas that have not traditionally been associated with football have begun to follow it. Mumbai and Cenai saw significant increases. In terms of popularity, the event was a huge success in rural areas, with over 100 million spectators.

This prompted the I-leaders League to seek a merger of the two competitions. Yet the Indian Super League wanted only the best I-League teams to become franchises. The odd compromise was that the first I-League qualifies for the Asian Champions League, and the Indian Super League champion qualifies for the AFC Cup. Finally, FIFA acknowledged this competition.

The result of strengthening the league also brought success to the Indian national team, which passed the qualifications for the Asian Cup. The arrival of foreign coaches and players improved the quality of Indian football. Due to the growing popularity of football, India hosted the Under 17 World Cup in 2017, which received the most visitors in the history of junior championships.

Here are Some of our Favourite Football (Soccer) Cleats

Here we will be giving more of an opinion, rather than facts. Are the cleats worth the price that they are being sold at? Should you upgrade from your current cleats, depending on what boots you own? What features stand out in these cleats? If any. Does it do the job? Speed, control, stability etc.

Depending on your needs/preferences. We can also mention its durability, if we have collected enough data on the specific cleats.

What did we expect vs. what we got. Is it maybe overrated/underrated?


Here’s our pick from the very best of the bunch.


On your way to the pro leagues? Here’s our pick.


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