India a key TV market for Fifa: Blatter

MUMBAI: With the football World Cup scheduled to kick off in Germany on Friday Fifa president Sepp Blatter has called India a key market with regards to soccer viewership and following as the nation gears up to witness the event on ESPN Star Sports (ESS).

Blatter stated that the soccer's world governing body expected to overshoot the reach of 28.8 billion globally.

Blatter who is known for his endeavour to enhance the global image of the game also lauded ESS' initiatives to promote the game in the country.

Blatter said, "I am very pleasantly surprised with the huge interest in soccer in a cricket crazy nation like India. It is the glory of the soccer world cup, which has transcended, like in other countries, over the language and sports barriers. In addition, ESPN Star Sports' programming initiatives and the special effort to telecast the 2006 Fifa World Cup in the national language, Hindi will further increase the viewer-ship. I congratulate ESPN Star Sports on all its plans to grow the popularity of soccer in India."

ESS India MD R C Venkateish said, "A phenomenal awareness has already been created around the Fifa World Cup in Germany. ESPN Star Sports continues to make efforts to excite and involve consumers for the FIFA World Cup. We have been building the football fever and would have showcased more than 200 hours of the 2006 Fifa World Cup related programming by the time we reach June 09.

"Our interactive marketing campaign continues to roll out to involve the viewers. We are confident that our telecast of the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Hindi will entertain viewers and help us in penetrating new markets for soccer. We expect to transfer and retain viewers to our Hindi telecast of the English Premier League after the 2006 Fifa World Cup".

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