Italian World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro is to step out of retirement and make a comeback in India as part of a new competition aimed at kick-starting football interest in the cricket-obsessed country.
Cannavaro revealed the news on his Twitter account saying: “I’m getting back on the pitch with the Indian Football Association, West Bengal.”
It is only six months since the 38-year-old announced his retirement from the game due to a nagging knee injury.
He had played the final year of his career in Dubai with Al-Ahli having left Italy following the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
He is to be part of the Indian Premier League, a six-team competition due to be run by the Indian Football Association and Celebrity Management Group (CMG).
Other famous names involved include Englishmen Robbie Fowler and John Barnes, France’s Robert Pires, Argentine Hernan Crespo, Spaniard Fernando Morientes and Jay Jay Okocha of Nigeria.
Each of the six franchises – Kolkata, Barasat, Howrah, Haldia, Durgapur and Siliguri – must have at least a famous foreign player and coach.
Argentine Juan Pablo Sorin is another player to be involved while Brits Peter Reid and Colin Todd – who both have English Premier League experience – join Barnes amongst the coaches.
Each team will be allowed to sign up to four foreign players while the rest will be made up of Indians.
The league will run for 10 weeks with matches played from Wednesdays through to Sundays, mostly at night, according to Italian press.
CMG have previous experience organising major sporting events in India having marketed a historic tour that saw Diego Maradona visit the country while they are also involved in AFC Champions League matches and were the marketing partner for Asia Cup Cricket in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2000.
Television rights are expected to be sold not only in South-east Asia but also Europe and America.