Indian football transforming into Indian Super League 5/5 (1)

Indian Super League 3

Long gone are those days, where the only sport that India was known for, was “Cricket”-especially Men’s Cricket. The Indian Super League brings a huge change with many celebrities supporting the football teams. Today, India is wading into all sorts of sports. The players, both males and females, are capturing positions in their respective fields. Badminton, Tennis, Table tennis, Boxing, Wrestling, Shooting, Gymnastics, Women’s Cricket, Billiards, Chess, Athletics, and Hockey are just a few to name. Indian Football and Kabbadi leagues have emerged recently and been succesful.

A Glance into Indian Football’s History

When it comes to football, India had been a part of the football leagues since the 19th century. Before the foundation of Indian Super league (ISL), it was the National football league (NFL), 1996, which directed the Indian football, under the governing body – All India Football Foundation (AIFF).

In order to standardize the operating conditions of football league system in India, AIFF transformed NFL to form I-league in 2007, to make the football as a professional sport but this lacked the proper enabling support and facilities, lacked the popularity due to poor marketing and quality. To overcome from such a situation, the league signed a television and media contract with Zee sports to promote and broadcast the sport, but this contract did not fulfill its purpose due to the differences between the people involved in the contract. This led to the creation of new franchise based football league in association with IMG and Reliance Industries in 2013.

Further revamping of football sport led to the launch of Today’s Indian Super League (ISL) during October 2013. The association was termed to be responsible for marketing, merchandising, franchising, broadcasting and organizing the football league along with AIFF. AIFF governs both I-league and ISL.

Indian Super League (ISL)

ISL is men’s football league in India with its inception in October 2013 in association with IMG, Reliance Industries, and Star Sports. The aim of ISL is to expose football to the country as a great sport. After the foundation, the league started its full swing operations in 2014 following along the same lines as Cricket’s Indian Premier League. The league had 8 teams then, with matches being played every day spanning for a period of 2-3 months. But this kind of operation existed without the recognition of the Asian governing body Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and World Football governing body Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) until the 2017-2018 season.

Recent changes incorporated in ISL 2017-2018

Since its inception in 2013-2014, ISL has been putting efforts to expand its scope of operation. This vision for improvements has led to the following:

  • Gained recognition from the Asian football governing body -AFC
  • Rules amended in terms of the number of foreign players and the Indian players’ participation
  • New rules set for the league at par with AFC
  • The team to seek a prior permission from the league, to include the foreign players
  • Added 2 new teams to the existing 8 teams totaling up to 10
  • Span of the league expanded from 3 months to 5 months
  • Work in progress to have a beautiful and giant,well-facilitated stadiums
  • Identification of the talent and Induction of new players into ISL
  • Work towards the wide-spread reach of Indian football by tapping into all forms of mediums such as Telecasting and broadcasting.
  • Streaming live telecasts in all the compatible forms of audio-visual electronic devices such as T.V, Mobile etc

2017-2018 Season

The ongoing Indian Super League is the 4th edition of ISL and unlike the prior seasons, this season is termed to be the premier footballing competition in India recognized by Asian Football Confederation (AFC), drawing humongous responsiveness from the world, rapidly gaining the popularity and challenging the stand of cricket in India.

Indian Super League 2
ISL 2017-2018

With 200 football players, the permutations of 10 teams in the 2017-2018 league have led the ISL to conduct a total 95 matches spanning across 5 months starting November 2017 and running till March 2018.These matches would be following home and away format with 2 semifinals and 1 finals match expected to happen in March-2018.This season has retained 8 teams and expanded itself adding 2 more teams –Bangalore and Jamshedpur FC -to the league. Each of these teams has 15-18 Indian Players and 8 foreign players inclusive of – retaining at least- 2 players being under 21 years of age and 2 senior players. Maximum foreign and Indian players allowed on the pitch at a time are 5 and 6 respectively. The team can have a minimum of 22 and a maximum of 25 players.

2017-2018 ISL Teams

Teams/Clubs involvedOriginCoach
ATK (formerly Atlético de Kolkata)Kolkata, West BengalTeddy Sheringham
Bengaluru FCBangalore, KarnatakaAlbert Roca
Chennaiyin FCChennai, Tamil NaduJohn Gregory
Delhi Dynamos FCNew Delhi, India Miguel Ángel Portugal
FC  GoaMargoa, GoaSergio Lobera
Kerala BlastersKochi, Kerala René Meulensteen
Mumbai City FCMumbai, MaharashtraAlexander Guimarães
Northeast UnitedGuwahati, Assam João de Deus
FC  Pune CityPune, MaharashtraRanko Popovic
Jamshedpur FCJamshedpur, Jharkhand Steve Coppell

The league is drafted such that it has 15 rounds. Here the sequence depends on the draw of lots. Teams are also allowed to pick the players by the “Instant Trading Card” system. This system can be applied from the third round onwards where any club/team needs to press the buzzer, within 15 seconds of another team announcing the draft, to grab a chance for putting forth the proposal, negotiate and make the deal with the other team within a specific timeframe. This option can be used twice by a team during the draft pick.


The football in India seems to be growing and gaining popularity all over the globe day by day. The fans of football seem to have waited eagerly for this ISL season. With the audience thronging in, the stadiums are apparently filling up faster than before.

The authorities of the league have put all their efforts to reach the audience through every possible medium and they are encouraging the reach of the sport in every possible way.

  • Star network is broadcasting the ISL in India and Asian sub-continent
  • Live streaming on TV channels such as Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports 1 Hindi and Star Sports 1 HD –Hindi
  • Live streaming on many online platforms such as star network’s, YouTube, and other sport websites

To Conclude:

This season’s Indian Super League champions will represent the Indian contingent at the upcoming 2019 AFC Cup.  This season is indeed a significant transiting phase for Indian Football both in terms of fan-base viewership and the league performance and capabilities.

Kacche Maidan Se Hari Maidan Tak – Chalo India Let’s Football!

Indian Super League 1
Chalo India -Let’s Football!


Authored by Rekha Harish Rao

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