| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI Jan 30 Hernan Crespo became the
hottest property of a new Indian soccer league starting next
month when the Argentine fetched $840,000 in an auction of
players and coaches on Monday.
Crespo was snapped up by the Barasat franchise of Premier
League Soccer (PLS), which is modelled on cricket's highly
successful Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament and
scheduled from Feb. 25-April 8 in the eastern Indian state of
The idea of a players' auction was borrowed from IPL, whose
success has spawned numerous franchise-based leagues in other
sports across the country.
Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro went
to Siliguri for $830,000, while Robert Pires of France
($800,000), Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha ($550,000) and Liverpool
great Robbie Fowler ($530,000) went to Howrah, Durgapur and
Five franchises collectively spent nearly $7 million, each
buying an 'icon' player, two overseas footballers and a coach.
"This auction is unprecedented not only in the history of
Indian football but also for world football," Bhaswar Goswami,
executive director of the Celebrity Management Group (CMG) which
is organising the league, told Reuters by telephone.
"There is an expenditure cap and I must say that the
franchises wisely spent their money," he said from Kolkata where
the auction took place.
In an otherwise cricket-crazy country, the eastern Indian
state of West Bengal is equally passionate about soccer.
Nearly 120,000 fans gave a rousing reception to Oliver Kahn
in the German goalkeeper's 2008 Bayern Munich swansong in
Kolkata and Argentina great Diego Maradona almost brought the
city to a standstill during his visit the same year.
Howrah will boast PLS's most expensive coach after shelling
out $240,000 for former Portugal central defender Fernando
Former Nigerian player and coach Samson Siasia (Durgapur)
and Icelander Teitur Thordorson (Barasat) were both sold for
Former Manchester City and Sunderland manager Peter Reid
(Kolkata) and Marco Etcheverry (Siliguri), arguably the greatest
Bolivian player, went for $200,000 each.
(Editing by Clare Fallon; To comment on this story: email
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