Football is widely played in India, with many Goa, Kerala, West Bengal, Mizoram, Manipur, and Sikkim. Although football has always been popular in specific regions and sections of society, the league has given it its primary focus. Football is one of the most popular sports in India and is said to be second only to cricket in popularity. However, some reports consider national football more popular than national cricket. The popularity of cricket in India is similar to that of football in Brazil.
The football industry in India has enormous commercial potential, especially in marketing, broadcasting and sponsorship. This also applies to the growing football industry in the country. The U17 World Cup has drawn attention to football and its potential. The State Sports Authority of India administers youth football.
At the height of India’s success in the 1950s and 1960s, the team automatically qualified for the 1950 FIFA World Cup (all other Asian teams withdrew) but ultimately did not qualify for the 1950 FIFA World Cup due to shipping issues. Insufficient rehearsal time, team selection issues, the All India Football Federation’s judging of the Olympics based on the World Cup and, unusually, the fact that they play barefoot, with FIFA requiring all players to wear football boots. India’s lack of support from the Indian Football Federation became apparent as the team’s trip to Germany was only possible with the help of non-resident Indians and the DFB. Indian footballers brought honour to India by winning gold medals at the Asian Games in New Delhi and Jakarta in 1951 and 1962, respectively.
Apart from LG winning the 2002 Cup in Vietnam, the 2011 Asian Cup qualifier and the 2001 FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Asian giants from the UAE, Indian football has done little in 15 years. India performed well in 2015 and 2016, reaching the second round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and winning the 2015 SAFF Championship, moving up to 135th in the FIFA rankings.
Bangalore FC has been beating historic Indian teams to win the traditional I-League, even joining the Indian Super League since the 2017-18 season. One such league that is currently making a significant impact in India is the Indian Super League (ISL). Following India’s first professional sports tournament, the Indian Premier League (Cricket), EFLI (Elite Football League of India) hopes to become India’s second televised organised sports tournament. India’s main league, while all-professional I-League clubs West Bengal and Mohun Bagan wanted the ISL and I-League to be fully merged.
As of October 2021, India is ranked 106th globally by the world governing body FIFA and 19th out of 46 Asian countries. India set another record in 1956 when it became the first Asian country to reach the semi-finals of Olympic football at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Even today, players from these regions are the backbone of the Indian national team.