'India is our No 1 target': Sevilla FC aim for long haul and football development after tie up with FC Bengaluru United

Sevilla FC have tied up with Indian football club FC Bengaluru United for grassroots development as the Spanish club plans to expand its presence in the country.

Ujwal Singh February 20, 2021 09:41:28 IST
'India is our No 1 target': Sevilla FC aim for long haul and football development after tie up with FC Bengaluru United

Jose Maria Cruz, General Director, Sevilla FC

The tie-ups between Indian and big European clubs are nothing new for the footballing ecosystem in our country. The best of the best ranging from Barcelona, Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, and others have made their way to India over the years, most of them have got into agreements and arrangements with their Indian counterparts and many of them have also left.

There's no doubt such tie-ups could be hugely beneficial for both parties. While it helps the European teams to enhance their footprint in the country of 1.3 billion people, the Indian football clubs also stand to gain by receiving technical knowledge and top-quality coaching. However, despite multiple partnerships, there have been very few success stories and it's natural for skepticism to grow when another such tie-up is announced.

LaLiga club Sevilla FC want to break the notion. They recently got into an agreement with the relatively unknown FC Bengaluru United.

A club of limited resources, Sevilla have often defied the odds to leave their mark on the European football map on a constant basis. They hold the record for most UEFA Europa League titles (six). They now want to see their learning make a difference elsewhere.

"We've also been successful on the domestic and international front in the different championships but let's say that most of our time and most of our resources have been focussed on improving the way our football club is run internally," said Sevilla CEO Jose Maria Cruz in a virtual media interaction. "We have implemented a radical change. But now we want to share with third parties, what we're doing."

"We are fully convinced that what works for us is something that can be shared with other third parties, we can share it too generously with third parties so that we can develop this wonderful sport in a much more in-depth manner in other countries."

Cruz is also clear that India is the country where Sevilla want to work.

"After analysing the pros and cons and after implementing a much more in-depth implementation of our international strategy in a number of areas, we have decided that India is our first and main strategic market. We have found the right kind of partner to initiate our process in India," added Cruz.

Bengaluru United and Founder of Nimida Sports Gaurav Manchanda said it's an opportunity for the club to aim for wholesome growth with knowledge transfer from Sevilla.

"This partnership is important for us to learn, grow and share. This is not meant to be a process for the heist, this is certainly an organic process of growth. We have a long way to go not only as a club but also a footballer," said Manchanda.

"For us, it is a whole new phase where we can learn, we can grow and share the learnings from Sevilla FC. We aim to improve our own quality football with knowledge transfer from Sevilla FC which includes many aspects such as the training game tactics, game strategy, academy structure, and in general, let's say the Spanish style of club football."

Currently, the agreement is for five years, but it's going to be a massive challenge for Sevilla as they plan to make an impression in India. Cricket, being the most popular sport in India, would be the biggest of challenges.

"It's more complex (in India) than in other countries where football or soccer is a much more predominant kind of sport," said Cruz. "But what we believe is that there's no reason to think that a young boy in India has less opportunities or less qualities to play football professionally. We don't think that there's any reason for this not to be the case.

"I'm fully aware that it's very difficult to achieve this level. I'm sure that if we are patient enough and if we do not transform this into something that is completely isolated, but rather something that becomes solid and something that is based on the long term, we'll be able to see how this growth will take place."

And the long term growth for Sevilla and Cruz definitely doesn't mean having a couple of Indian players plying their trade in LaLiga or Spain, but to have a number of players with quality.

"It's very important to work on the grassroots, it's very important to generate a suitable number of players with an intermediate level of quality because isolated talents always appear, they can appear at any point in time, they can appear at any league in any country," said Cruz.

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