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Desi football league nets foreign stars

sports Updated: Jan 31, 2012 01:16 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Some fading stars of World Cup football created ripples at a hotel in Kolkata on Monday, five days before the world's leading cricketers go under the hammer in the Indian Premier League auction in Bangalore.

Argentine Hernan Crespo, 36, was bought by the Barasat franchise for $840,000 (Rs 4.1 crore) as the icon player in the players' and coaches' auction of the first Premier League Soccer tournament — a regional event in West Bengal.

Italy's Fabio Cannavaro, 39, went for $830,000 (Rs 4 crore) — more than the $750,000 (Rs 3.7 crore) Australia opener David Warner, who recently made merry against India Down Under, went for in the 2011 IPL auction. Cannavaro lifted the World Cup for his country in 2006 and was crowned Fifa’s world player of the year.

It's a six-team competition involving city-based franchises of Bengal who will play at home and away in March. Five teams — Kolkata, Durgapur, Barasat, Howrah and Siliguri — have been bought.

The sixth, Haldia, is yet to find an owner but organisers said an event management company and the Indian Football Association, which runs the sport in Bengal, should buy it in a week.

Along with Crespo, Englishman Robbie Fowler, 37, France's Robert Pires, 39, and Nigeria's Jay Jay Okocha, 39, too went for eye-popping prices. Eye-popping because the former World Cup stars are past their prime — Cannavaro has retired, Pires is still trying to stage a comeback in the English Premier League with Aston Villa while Fowler is in the Thai Premier League.

Iconic figures