Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A million for Maradona to set foot in Kolkata

Fish & football are two passions , an average Bengalee can not do without.

You can take industry , industriousness & the "culture for hard work" out of his life but not fish & football. To stoke the electoral fire of the second passion, a communist member of parliament(MP) from Bengal has announced that international soccer star & present coach of Argentina, Diego Maradona will be felicitated in Kolkata next month. Maradona is also expected to lay the foundation stone of a football academy in the MP's constituency in Maheshtala . There are grand plans to send trained young players from the academy to the lower division Latin American leagues.

If cricket superstars like Jayasuriya & Shohaib Akhtars can come & inaugurate Durga Puja pandals , why not Maradona and that too for a good cause of kick starting a football academy in Bengal? So goes the logic of inviting Maradona.
So far , so good.

The cost of bringing Maradona to Kolkata is one million US dollars, as per inside sources. It would be interesting to watch the corporate bodies that are extravagant enough to sponsor and/or underwrite this "one-off" event at a time when corporate spending is low & even organisers of safe- bets ,like the T20 Champion league, are finding it difficult to get the lead & associate sponsors. Further, Maradona will not even take the field.

No comment has been made in the press release about the three-year project cost of such a football academy. That cost should be atleast five times the fee of Maradona . Will the underwriter of the academy-project be able to sustain their interest in the academy through-out the three years? The plans about the academy are so sketchy that one wonders whether this is the right time for launching it with soccer-superman Maradona or anyone else for that matter. Maybe, this is a pre-electoral gimmick of the ruling party to woo young voters, who top the demographical list!

It is expected, the publicity mileage will be cornered by the ruling communist government (as it so often happens in Bengal ) with the sponsors remaining high & dry. The recent felicitation of Oliver Kahn in his farewell match in Kolkata is an example where the sponsors, Peerless hardly got the credit while the state government basked in the glory of bringing the Bayern Munich star to Kolkata.
But when passions are carefully ignited even fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

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