Kolkata to witness clash of soccer legends
Kolkata, the soccer mad city of cricket crazy India, is set to hold another big football event involving the game's legends Dec 8 when yesteryears' greats from Brazil and other powerhouses clash at the Salt Lake Stadium here, the organisers announced Monday.
The match involving Brazilian Masters and Sports Ministers Legends would see in action soccer celebrities from the Latin American nation like Carlos Dunga, Robeto Carlos, Bebeto, Cafu, Juninho Paulista, Mario Silva and Zetti.
Among those who have confirmed their participation for the Sports Ministers Legends are the Colbian duo of goalkeeper Rene Higuieta and Carlos Valderamma, the promoters Omnibus - an event management and management consultancy company - said.
Among other players who are being tapped for the Sports Ministers Legends are David Beckham, Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane, though none of them has confirmed so far.
"We will announce some big names phase by phase in the coming days," Jimmy Olsson of Omnibus told mediapersons.
To ensure exposure to young talents, both teams will include some under-19 players chosen from across the country. "The Sports Ministers Legends may also have some players from Bengal," the organisers said.
As per the schedule drawn up, the two sides will hold open practice sessions Dec 7, besides taking part in a charity dinner, and visiting schools and organisations like the Missionaries of Charity.
However, Olsson admitted they were yet to get the final nod from the union sports ministry, which is mandatory for arranging games involving foreign players.
The promoters said if the venture was successful, more such matches would be held in future, and even an academy could come up with assistance from the Brazilian masters.
Dunga, who was present at the media meet, said he was eagerly waiting for the match.
"There are several players who have played together during their playing career. And will be playing together yet again after a long time. I am just waiting for the 8th of Dec for the match and then we will have a big party."
West Bengal Sports Minister Madan Mitra said the state government would provide all infrastructural support.
The tickets would be priced between Rs.300 and Rs.1500.
The organisers plan to sell broadcast rights of the match across the globe, but were circumspect about live coverage, due to bandwidth problem and with the game clashing with the India-England Test match at the Eden Gardens.
If the match comes through, it would only be a continuation of Kolkata's tryst of hosting soccer legends. In the past, footballers like Pele, Diego Maradona, Lothar Matthaus, Oliver Kahn, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Gerd Muller, Romario, Ruud Gullit and Branco have all mesmerised the city with their presence.
Though all of them came to the city much after their retirement, Uruguayan star Diego Forlan came to the city to participate in a soccer talent hunt show just weeks after becoming the golden ball winner in the 2010 World Cup.
Brazilian star Zico had come as the coach of Japan's national side for a pre-World Cup game, while Cameroon's Roger Milla - adjudged the best African player of the last century - played an exhibition match months after his sparkling performance at the 1990 World Cup.
Last September, the city hosted the country's first ever FIFA friendly match when football sensation Lionell Messi-led Argentina clashed against Venezuela at the Salt Lake stadium. The Argentines won the encounter courtesy a second-half header by Porto centre-half Nicolas Otamendi.