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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Champions League T20 hoping to woo European fans

Champions League T20 hoping to woo European fans

September 23, 2009 21:32 IST

Champions League Twenty20 trophyEncouraged by the success of the first two editions of the Indian Premier League, the organisers of the Champions League Twenty20 are hoping the upcoming tournament, being jointly-staged by the cricket boards of India, Australia and South Africa, will be an even bigger hit with fans.

Champions League Twenty20, beginning in Bangalore on October 8, will see 12 teams from seven nations battle each other for the title of 'Champion of Champions'.

Tournament chairman Lalit Modi believes the tournament will emerge as the biggest entertainment property in the sport, and enable cricket make a major foray in football-crazy European nations.

"This is the first time in history, I would say, that this tournament is going to be in so many different languages. We are going to be in English, Hungarian, Italian, Serbian, Turkish, French, German, Croatian, Russian and, of course, Spanish.

'This we are doing primarily to ensure and broad base to take our products to these countries which have never ever watched cricket live before. We want more and more people to watch cricket," Modi said, in Mumbai on Wednesday, at the launch of the Champions League trophy.

The winners of the tournament will be presented a trophy, made of precious metals, studded with 5.12 carat diamonds and precious and semi-precious gemstones. The trophy stands 1.5 feet tall and weighs just over 6 kg.

The BCCI vice-president said cricket needs to spread out to more countries other than to those involved in playing the game.

"We need to grow the game of cricket. Apart from the ten countries we need fans across the world to embrace the game of cricket and watch the game of cricket. The fans of those [European] countries are primarily engaged in watching football and that is all they get to watch. Our markets have been restricted to traditional ten Test-playing countries in the past and it has spread out a little bit to Middle East, maybe to Hong Kong, to a certain extent to Singapore and to the US, but mainly to the Asian population.

He also revealed how he plans to use the popular Twenty20 format to switch some European fans from football to cricket.

"In most of the other countries around the world cricket was never watched because it was never available. Unless you make cricket available to the viewers in those countries, how are they even going to learn about it? And what better way to do it than bring it to them in their local language so they can watch and understand the game.

'Otherwise somebody in Hungary may not understand the game of cricket and he is watching it on TV and the commentatory is in Hindi or English; so the chance of him switching off the match is there. If the match is in his local language there is a chance that he may watch it for five minutes or half an hour and there are chances he may appreciate it," Modi said.

Despite so much importance being given to Twenty20 tournaments like the IPL and the Champions League, Modi said preserving Test cricket remains a priority for the administrators.

"Test matches are here to stay. Test matches are something that we always continue to promote. You got to understand that the focus is on Twenty20 and these tournaments now because these tournaments have never been there.

"Tests are going to be very much the prime product of the BCCI and the cricketing world going forward. We are working on the new FTP as we speak and the big emphasis is on the Test matches," he said.

Harish Kotian