| NEW DELHI, March 31
NEW DELHI, March 31 Uncertainty over the
inaugural edition of India's Premier League Soccer (PLS)
increased on Saturday when organisers disputed a claim from the
All India Football Federation (AIFF) that the competition had
The six-team league, featuring a host of international
players in the twilight of their careers, was launched with the
hope of replicating the success of the Indian Premier League
Twenty20 cricket tournament.
However, denied grounds by the West Bengal state government,
the PLS missed its original March 24 start and AIFF secretary
general Kushal Das said the first edition had been shelved.
"It has been cancelled, this is what IFA (Indian Football
Association) has told us," Das told Reuters.
"We sactioned the event long back but AIFF is not managing
it, IFA is. It's for them to decide."
IFA is the West Bengal unit of the Indian FA and its
secretary general Utpal Ganguli insisted the competition would
"It will happen this year and we will make an announcement
soon," Ganguli told Reuters from Kolkata.
Ganguli was backed by Dharamdutt Pandey, chief executive of
the Celebrity Management Ground (CMG), which came up with the
idea for the league.
"The IFA secretary is in touch with the West Bengal sports
minister and grounds are likely to be available from August. We
are now looking at October-November," Pandey told Reuters.
If that does not materialise, PLS would suffer the fate of
the i1 Super Series, an IPL-style motor racing league which had
its first edition deferred to next year because of logistic
Many expect PLS to succeed in West Bengal, an eastern Indian
state with a passion for soccer unmatched in an otherwise
Nearly 120,000 fans gave a memorable 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 in the same year.
Franchises spent nearly $7 million in the Jan. 30 auction of
PLS players and coaches where Argentine Hernan Crespo proved the
league's hottest property, fetching $840,000.
Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro
($830,000), former France international Robert Pires ($800,000),
Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha ($550,000) and Liverpool great Robbie
Fowler ($530,000) were also auctioned among the franchises based
in different cities in West Bengal.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by
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