Zee kicks off India's Alchemist Federation Cup

After acquiring the broadcasting and media rights for football matches from the All India Football Federation for 10 years beginning this month, Zee Sports, the first Indian private sports channel, is now gearing up to glamorise the game of football. Under the AIFF, five football series – three domestic and two international – are played. The three domestic tournaments are the Federation Cup, the Santosh Trophy and the National Football League and the two international events are the Nehru Cup and the Rajiv Gandhi Cup. Zee Sports has already signed up Alchemist, one of India's fastest growing conglomerates, as the title sponsor for this year's Alchemist Federation Cup.

Himanshu Mody, Zee's executive vice-president, told The Business Standard that the network will first promote the best players. “Football heroes today are unknown and, hence, our efforts would be to first popularise the faces and then make them icons.” A two-pronged promotional strategy is being adopted, with the first being profiling and introducing the football players to the nation and the second hyping the game itself during the matches and the lead time. Since West Bengal, Kerala, Goa, Punjab and north-east have traditionally been big football markets, the channel’s focus is on Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore.

Mody also said the channel is looking to make heavy investments in football, with the first step in that direction being the 12-camera set-up that the channel will be using. The Zee Sports website will provide soccer fans with the latest team news, match scores, statistics and player profiles as well as exclusive player interviews and photo galleries.

The channel has also launched a show, titled ‘Football Cafe’, and a cheer squad. “The ZeeBras have been introduced to sensationalise the game and give it an edge. These girls are currently undergoing training and would be performing a number of off-screen and on-screen acts,” Gaurav Seth, head of marketing, Zee Sports, said.

AIFF general secretary, Mr Alberto Colaco, disclosed that for the first time in the history of the Federation Cup, a man-of-the match award has been instituted with a prize money of Rs 5000 for pre-quarters, Rs 7,500 for quarters and Rs 10,000 for semi-finals and a sum of Rs 15,000 for the man-of-the finals. A prize of Rs 25,000 will be given to the most valuable player of the tournament. Tickets will be priced at Rs 40 and Rs 30.

See also: Zee adds English glamour to promote Fed Cup TV (14 Oct)