The idea of the Indian Super League was conceived as a way to popularize football in India, a nation historically dominated by cricket. Football has always had a niche following in the country, but it lacked the infrastructure, investment, and enthusiasm to compete on a global stage. The ISL aimed to change that.
The inaugural season in 2014 featured eight franchises representing various Indian cities. Each team was a blend of Indian and international players, and marquee foreign players like Alessandro Del Piero, Robert Pires, and David Trezeguet graced the league. The tournament adopted a unique format, with franchises operating in a manner similar to those in popular global sports leagues like the NBA or the Premier League.
From the very beginning, the ISL garnered significant attention. The high production values, star-studded lineups, and passionate fan base all contributed to its rapid growth. However, it was the infusion of investment, both domestic and international, that truly catapulted the league into the limelight.
One of the key attractions of the ISL has been its ability to draw renowned international football stars to India. This not only increased the league’s global visibility but also provided young Indian talents with the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business.
The likes of Robbie Keane, Diego Forlán, and Dimitar Berbatov graced the ISL, and their presence added an extra layer of excitement. This blend of Indian youth and international experience has not only improved the quality of Indian football but has also made the ISL more competitive and entertaining.