Football Rules The Hearts Of Industry Honchos


The countdown has begun. Nine days to go until we know the winner of the Fifa World Cup 2006, which is currently underway in Germany. All thanks to media proliferation in India, the hype for football has never been as much as it is this time round.

While cricket still rules in the hearts of our top industry honchos; football has now managed to carve a niche for itself. What's more, many executives have either already been to Germany or are on their way there to catch the action live as it happens.

However, what better than mixing work with pleasure and that's what people like Sam Balsara (Madison Communications chairman and managing director), G Krishnan (TV Today CEO and executive director), Uday Shankar (Star News CEO), I Venkat (Eenadu TV director), Srinivasan K. Swamy (RK Swamy BBDO CEO), Madhukar Kamath (Mudra Communications managing director and CEO), Vinod Berry (Sony Entertainment Television (SET) India Ltd. senior vice president revenue management) and Joy Chakraborthy (Zee Telefilms executive vice president network sales) will be doing today (30 June).

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) have their joint body meeting in Hamburg today and the Indian television and media team will head to the stadium to catch the Italy versus Ukraine match soon after wrapping up work. (We'll surely be watching out for them on television tonight!)

Now let's take a dekhho at what games drives our industry. Ever wondered what do Star India CEO Peter Mukherjea and SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta have in common apart from each being the head of a television company? Here's what… they both love to play golf. But since we're kicking a bigger ball here, let's find out what their football mantra is.

Peter Mukherjea

While Dasgupta went to Germany to catch the Brazil versus Japan match, Mukherjea, on the other hand, despite having tickets for the semi-finals, is not too keen on going all the way!

"I do like football but I am not keen on going all the way to Germany for the matches even though I got the tickets for the semi-finals. I enjoyed the Brazil versus Ghana match, though the result was expected. I do catch up with most of the matches keeping aside the late night matches," says Mukherjea.

Dasgupta is gung ho over his experience in Germany. "The experience of watching the teams live is just awesome and amazing. My all time favorite team is Brazil but this time Portugal is gaining my attention. As far as players are concerned, there is no one who stands out this time but my favorite player is Miroslav Klose from Germany," he says.

However, both Dasgupta and Mukherjea believe that Germany stands a good chance to steal the show this time round as home ground and home crowd support plays a vital role.

Raveena Raj Kohlli

Sundial Creative Media Pvt. Ltd founder Raveena Raj Kohlli loves watching cricket, football and Wimbledon. "All the hype around football is because of great marketing and excellent presentation. It is a fresh and lively game. Even a person who does not know much about the game can watch and enjoy the matches," she says.

However, she regrets the fact that she can't go to Germany to catch the matches there unlike some of her peers. "Many of my friends did catch up with the matches there and according to them the place is unbelievably boisterous. The stadium is jam packed with people from all walks of life, enjoying, shouting and freaking out," she adds.

Commitments at work have even deprived Kohlli of watching most of the matches on TV. "I was not even lucky enough to catch up with the Brazil-Ghana match, which I wished to watch desperately. Of the others, I could hardly view a few. The Australia-Italy match was an awesome one," she

says. But she's adamant that she's not going to let anything deter her from watching the finale on 9 July.

Times Now vice president and editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami is another one of those die hard cricket fans but has been bent towards football lately, more likely due to the fatigue factor that has been surrounding cricket.

"People are hardly interested in the test series going on in West Indies after the Fifa World Cup began. They have sort off switched to a new game, which is more lively and exciting. It is also because of the cable and satellite penetration that the game is getting such hype. Even the news channels are doing two to three shows a day analyzing football and are neglecting cricket to a great extent," he says.

Due to incessant work demands, Goswami literally lives life in his office and hence catches all the matches there with the Times Now sports bureau. But the news man is now going to leave his abode and head to Europe to catch one of the matches - not in the stadium but in a London pub! "I was looking forward to the Brazil- Ghana match but it was a total disappointment. I was quite impressed with Ghana though but it has ruined my expectations," sighs Goswami.

Lynn de Souza

Goswami, like all Indians, is backing Brazil and his favourite player is Ronaldo. "I feel Germany and Brazil will reach the finals as many factors like local support and good performance count a lot for the two teams," he says.

A tennis player and a fan of the game (of course), Lintas Media Services director Lynn de Souza is clued on to tennis more than football. But being in the media business, one has to be abreast with the happenings all around and that's what de Souza does. "I don't really watch the football matches but I manage to keep a track about what's happening as people around me keep me in the loop and I also read up on it," she says. However, as the drama unfolds and becomes more exciting on the field, de Souza will be glued to the television to catch the live matches. Backing Brazil, she feels that either her favourite team or Argentina will grab the Cup this year.

She is of the opinion that because India did not play too well in the cricket World Cup, the viewership has drifted towards football. "Matches are being telecast in the primetime slots and this is affecting the regular viewership. This shows what a hype football has taken all of a sudden. The kind of promotion newspapers are giving Fifa is tremendous. Something of this sort has never happened before," de Souza says.

Here we have another die hard cricket fan in Buena Vista International Television (India) director Amit Malhotra but at the same time, he likes football too and prefers to watch it in a pub or bar with some like-minded people.

Malhotra feels that the sudden bent towards football is a combination of a few factors. "One of them is the way India performed in the last Cricket World Cup and also because we've had an overdose of cricket in the past four years. What's more, media is also giving hype to this cause. In the next two - three years football will be a very popular sport in India," he says.

Patronizing Argentina just this once, Malhotra (whose favourite team is Brazil) is looking forward to the Germany - Argentina match. "In the past, Brazil - Japan match was just too engrossing. The first goal made by Japan was heart-taking. My heart supports Brazil to all extents as the team is very talented. My all time favorite player is Ronaldinho as he rocks. I feel Brazil is definitely going to grab the Cup because it is the best and the most consistent team. It is one team, which plays without any pressure on their mind. They are the ones who enjoy the game to the fullest," says he.

Keertan Adhyantaya

Cricket has a fan club member in Vh1 general manager Keertan Adhyantaya too, who is of the opinion that no other game can create the fervor that cricket generates in India. "It's just the explosion done by the media that football is getting such hype. A few years ago, there were hardly two news channels and those too were not giving it so much of importance. But now with the phenomenal development in the cable and satellite industry, every sport is managing to find its place under the sun," he says.

However, notwithstanding that Adhyantaya has managed to latch on to the football fever with family, friends and colleagues. "For the finals, I will be going out with a few friends to a club and watch the event on the big screen," he reveals.

While his favorite team is Portugal, his gut tells him that Brazil will be taking the cake this time too.

So whether it's Brazil, Portugal, Argentina or Germany; one thing's for sure… however much our execs might love cricket… they are all clued on to football fever for sure!

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