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Rivaldo feels India needs lengthy football league for development

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Brazilian legend Rivaldo feels India should have a domestic league that runs at least six months to develop into a strong footballing nation.

Both Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-League — the two leagues in the country — presently run for less than six months. Both the league’s miss out on in-form foreign talents because leagues in Europe run almost for 10 months.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been contemplating merger of the two leagues from the next season.

Asked what is the way forward for India, whose men’s national team is ranked 137th, Rivaldo said here on Friday: “I have heard from Zico, Elano, Lucio about Indian football. My impression is that you have to work hard and dedicate yourself. For better, the championship needs to be changed to six or seven months. It will be more professional.”

“India is a big country. If you work in a proper way, you will find good players in the future,” the former FC Barcelona star added, during his visit to Delhi Dynamos Soccer School here.

Rivaldo, who is brand ambassador of the Subroto Cup football tournament, is in India to grace the final of the international schools meet on Sunday.

The 1999 World Footballer of the Year also gave the example of Japan, a country that has become an Asian powerhouse not so long ago.

“It is important to bring big names or big players because the young players can see what they are doing and what they are saying,” the 2006 World Cup winner said.

“When Zico was in the end of his career in Japan, the country offered contracts to many foreign footballers. But the Japanese are work hard and learn quick.”

“Now they have Zico’s philosophy and methodology to follow and now they run the league on their own and they don’t need foreign recruits. They qualify regularly to World Cups. Only one way is to work hard.”

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