Italy’s World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, the former Bolton Wanderers midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha and the Arsenal legend Robert Pires are set to feature in an Indian football competition that hopes to replicate the success of cricket’s Indian Premier League.
Around 30 players and six coaches from around the world will be auctioned off in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata for the league, to be staged between 25 February and 8 April.
“We have signed seven icon players for the auction and each of the six teams will have one such player with a $600,000 salary cap,” said Bhaswar Goswami, the executive director of Celebrity Management Group.
Other signed-up players – all at the end of their careers – include the Portuguese midfielder Maniche, the former Argentina international Juan Pablo Sorín, the ex-Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler, the former Spain striker Fernando Morientes and the Argentinian Hernán Crespo.
CMG has signed a 30-year deal with the Indian Football Association for the league and has floated tenders for franchises, Goswami said.
“We have started with six teams this year, all in the state of West Bengal but have already been approached to expand the league to other parts of the country.
“Every team will have $2.5m (£1.63m) to spend in the first year. They will have a maximum of four foreigners and a compulsory six under-21 Indian players in their squad.”