India is a South Asia country home to the second-largest population in the world, with over a billion people. This emerging economic powerhouse is also home to some of the most passionate and ardent followers of the beautiful game you can find anywhere. Despite the popularity and huge success of other sports like Cricket, football is arguably still one of the most-watched sports in this former British colony. In fact, it is one of the countries with the most football fans in the world. However, let’s find out some facts about football in India.
Football was introduced to India in the mid-nineteenth century through English soldiers serving in the then British colony. The first few games were played by soldiers drawn from army units stationed in the country.
2. First Football Club
The first soccer club in India was Calcutta FC, established in 1872. The club was initially founded as a cricket side in the 1840s by British expatriates before the football team was later added.
3. First National Team Match
The first unofficial national team game was sometime in 1924. A mixed team of Indians and British players embarked on playing tours facing various countries. The first officially recorded game was in September 1938, a friendly match against Australia which they lost 5-3.
4. Biggest Win By National Team
India has recorded two biggest victories in their football history. First, a 7-1 thrashing of Australia on 12th December 1956 and a 6-0 humbling of Cambodia on 17th August 2007.
5. Biggest Loss
India’s biggest defeat was at the hands of the former Soviet Union, who hammered them 11-1 on 16th September 1955.
6. Highest Number of Caps
The Indian player with the highest number of appearances for the national team is Sunil Chhetri. The 37-year-old has featured in a record 125 games for The Blue Tigers between 2005 till date.
7. All-time Topscorer For India
Sunil Chhetri also holds the record for the highest number of goals for the senior national team. The striker has scored a record 80 so far over his 16-year plus career.
8. International Participation
India has never played in the FIFA World Cup but were involved in the football tournament of the Olympics in the early years of their formation. India has participated in 4 Olympic games, the first in London in 1948.
9. International Triumphs
India has won quite a few continental trophies in their history. They have won the South Asian Football Federation championship eight times.
10. Football League
The Premier League in India is the lucrative India Super League (ISL). Many top foreign players have played in the Indian Super League. Atlético de Kolkata are the most successful indian football club in the ISL.
11. The Durand Cup Is The Third-Oldest Cup In The World
Durand Cup, is an annual local football competition in India, which began in 1888. The Durand Cup is the oldest tournament in Asia, and the third-oldest in the world after the English FA Cup and the Scottish Cup.
12. FIFA Tournament
India hosted and participated in the FIFA under-17 world cup in 2017. It is the only FIFA tournament to be hosted in India till date.