India Super league
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Football is a popular sport in India. Football is very popular in Kerala, West Bengal, Goa and northeast India, including Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
India's currently best national league, the I-League football, was founded in 2007 to professionalize national football. In 2013, the Indian Super League was formed as an unrecognized professional league with eight teams to promote Indian football around the world. After three seasons, the club was recognized parallel to the I-League as a top tier league, leaving India as one of the few countries with two fully recognized top tier leagues lagged behind. Also controversial is the Santosh Trophy, a knockout competition between states (provinces) and state institutions.
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The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup was hosted by India in October 2017. For the first time, the country hosted a FIFA event. The tournament was touted as the most successful FIFA U-17 World Cup ever. The attendance record was 1,347,133, exceeding the Chinese edition of 1985 (1,230,976). India will also host the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2020. As a result, India has also applied for the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup and is considering applying for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.
India qualified by default for the FIFA World Cup in 1950, as all planned opponents were withdrawn. The lack of financial support for the purchase of tickets, including the prospect of a very long sea voyage, meant that the team never made it to Brazil. Although FIFA imposed a ban on barefoot after the 1948 Olympic Games, in which India played barefoot. The myth that Indians refused to play because they were not allowed to play barefoot is not entirely correct, according to then-Indian captain Shailen Manna. It was just a story to cover up the catastrophic decision of the AIFF. The team has never qualified for the World Cup since then.
India even won the gold medal in football at the first Asian Games in 1951 and defeated a "shot-over" Iran by a sole goal. After putting on his boots, India reached the semi-finals of the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, the first Asian country to do so. It finished fourth in the tournament. In 1962, India again won the football gold at the Asian Games. 1951-1962 is usually regarded as the "golden phase" of Indian football. The national team won numerous titles during this time under the guidance of Syed Abdul Rahim. In addition to the success in Asian football, India also won the Merdeka Cup and the quadrangle tournament, while Ostbengalen received rave reviews after his tour of Romania. Rahim's death in the early 1960s revived Indian football after a successful period. Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter once said that India is the "sleeping giant of world football".
India has never qualified for the Olympics after 1960. India has qualified for the first Asian Cup in 1964 but has not conquered the title. India's last major performance in an international tournament was the 1970 Asian Games when it won the bronze medal by defeating Japan 1-0. In the mid-1970s, the Indian youth team and Iran won the Youth Asian Cup. September 24, 1977 was a golden day for Indian club football when Mohun Bagan won a memorable 2-2 draw against a New York Cosmos led by Pelé at the legendary Eden Gardens Stadium in Calcutta. Mohun Bagan would have gone further and won the draw, unless a controversial penalty had been awarded to the visitors, who would have ensured that the spoils were shared. The next day, Ananda Bazar described Patrika Goutam Sarkar as "India's Own Pelvic Builder." However, Indian football underwent a meager phase in the 70s, 80s and 90s and gradually lost its hold as the top Asian team.
In August 2007, the Indian national team won for the first time in their history, the Nehru Cup against Syria 1-0. In August of the following year, India defeated Tajikistan 4-1 to win the AFC Challenge Cup, and qualified for the AFC Asian Cup 2011 in Qatar. In August 2009, India again won the Nehru Cup on penalties against Syria (6: 5).
In January 2011, India participated in the 2011 Asian Cup. This was the first time in 24 years that India participated in the Asian Cup. India was defeated in the group stage with South Korea, Australia and Bahrain.
Since the Asian Cup in 2011, the All India Football Federation has been working intensively on Indian football. For example, they allowed former coach Bob Houghton to coach the Indian team in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. After his first place in the AFC Challenge Cup Bob Houghton was dismissed and replaced by Wim Koevermans. In the meantime, the Indian U23 national team won the first round of the 2012 Olympics against Myanmar, but was defeated by Qatar. India played in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against the United Arab Emirates, losing 5-2 to India overall.
In 2014, India hosted the first Unity World Cup in Goa, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
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