Indian footballers increasing their bargaining power

The introduction of India's 10-team National Football League has increased sponsorship of the game and "shot up the bargaining power of Indian footballers," writes Armstrong Vaz in OhMyNews. According to his article, India captain Baichung Bhutia makes around Rs 10 million (US$225,000) in a year, although not all of it necessarily comes for his kicks on the football field. He earns around Rs 3 million ($68,000) from his football contract, while his other income comes from endorsements and television appearances. Brazilian Ramirez Jose Baretto is a huge star in the city of Kolkotta in the eastern state of West Bengal. Mohan Bagan FC was successful in persuading him back from Mahindra United for a price tag of Rs 7 million ($158,000).

Kolkotta's buying power is drawing players from other footballing states. Goan star Alvito D'Cunha earns around Rs 2.2 million ($50,000) in a yearly contract with East Bengal FC. Similarly with Freddy Mascarenhas, Covan Lawrence, Bibiano Fernandes, and Vincente Pires who earn between to Rs 1-1.5 million ($23-34,000) a year at East Bengal.

Playing for India is different to club football. Unlike cricketers who get around Rs 160,000 for an one-day international game and Rs 250,000 for five-day test match, national team footballers earn only Rs 5,000 ($113) per tournament. "Recently long-serving All India Football Federationpresident Priya Ranjan Das Munshi in a meeting with footballers promised them better pay for representing their country. Sadly, the promised has failed to materialise. The only occasion when the Indian footballers had bulging pockets that was when they won the South Asian Football Federation Cup. They got Rs 100,000 ($2,300) per share of the prize money they had won," Vaz reported.

AIFF plans for the Oil and Natural Gas Commission-sponsored NFL to go fully professional next year and may bring in new clubs. Currently the states of Goa and West Bengal have three clubs each, another western state, Maharashtra, has two, Punjab has one, Karnataka has one. There is no team from football crazy Kerala or another state in the south, Tamil Nadu. The northeast region, which enjoys die-hard football support, has no club. None of the current NFL clubs own their own stadium. Clubs are allowed to register four foreign players, out of which three can take the field at once.