sports

The Indian Super League, the country’s new professional football league, kicked off last weekend. Sceptics who doubted its pulling power were proved wrong as Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium packed out for the first game.

In a nation where cricket is tantamount to a religion, few expected football to have much appeal. But the ISL – backed by media group Star India and IMG-Reliance, a partnership between the sports management group and Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man – has captured the attention of the public, the players and the sponsors. Will it last? Read more >>

Yoga guru BKS Iyengar passed away last week. As the tributes poured in, Iyengar was credited with spreading awareness of Indian culture around the world.

The yoga master was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India, earlier this year – and his style of teaching has become big business in the western world.

The New Yorker provides a glimpse into the master’s childhood and his own education in yoga as a young man in the 1930s, when ‘physical culture’ was taking off around the world: Read more >>

By David O’Byrne of bne in Istanbul

Turkish football is no stranger to empty stadia, with the football authorities regularly ordering matches to be played behind closed doors as punishment for the misbehaviour of fans and players alike. But the April 20 derby match between fierce Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce and Besiktas was different. Read more >>

By Guy Norton of bne in Zagreb

If there’s a subject guaranteed to provoke impassioned debate in Croatia, it’s golf. Millions of people around the world may regard the game as Scotland’s greatest gift to humanity after single-malt whisky, but in Croatia it’s more often seen as one of the darkest evils of global capitalism. Opponents of about 90 proposed golf course developments in the country are keen to characterise golf as the sport of choice for global property speculators willing to wreak long-term environmental damage on Croatia in pursuit of short-term profit. Read more >>

Sachin Tendulkar, who has said he will retire in November, may well be the greatest batsman cricket has ever seen but he is not the highest earning one. That title, according to Forbes, goes to fellow Indian Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

As Forbes reports, the Little Master’s earnings in the year to June may have suffered because he refuses to endorse alcoholic drinks. But he is still making a tidy packet – $22m vs $31.5m for Dhoni. And Tendulkar has been raking it in for years, ranking as India’s highest-paid sportsman, according to the Economic Times, for the past two decades. Read more >>

By Roger Blitz

Three months before New Delhi stages India’s third grand prix, the country’s love affair with motorsport risks heading for a nasty collision. Bernie Ecclestone warned ominously at the weekend its place on the 2014 calendar was in jeopardy.

“Very political,” said the 82 year-old, chief executive of Formula One Management, when asked to explain the problem. It looks like the Indian government’s attempt to extract taxes on revenues and other red tape have riled the teams and made them wonder aloud whether the Indian market is worth it. Read more >>

Indian cricket has seen plenty of unlikely comebacks, not least the national team’s recovery to win the 2011 World Cup, having suffered a mini-collapse against Sri Lanka in the final.

But few are as striking as that of the head of the game’s governing body, N Srinivasan, who now looks set for an improbable return, after stepping aside in disgrace during a corruption furore involving the lucrative Indian Premier League tournament just two months ago. Read more >>

Let's play ball

Basketball is big business in China, and now America’s NBA wants to repeat the trick in Asia’s second largest emerging market: India.

Yet in a country already dominated by diminutive cricketers, success for the sport’s towering athletes looks a trickier prospect. Read more >>

By Rob Hartley

Bankers like rugby union. Not all of them, but certainly lots of them. Stop and listen to the crowds on a big day at Twickenham and you are as likely to hear talk of bonds, mergers and interest rates as rucks, mauls and tries. Finance and rugby are old bedfellows in the City.

If an event like the Rugby World Cup Sevens, kicking off on Friday in Moscow, were in London, there would be a healthy batch of British finance professionals keen to provide sponsorship. So how’s it going in Russia? Read more >>

The president of PepsiCo India, Manu Anand, has stepped down after just two and a half years in the job.

It’s difficult to separate the news from the company’s unfortunate decision to shell out millions of dollars to associate itself with the scandal-hit Indian Premier League (IPL). Read more >>

As one of the most popular presidents in Brazilian history, Dilma Rousseff must have hoped this would never happen.

But at the opening match of the FIFA Confederations Cup on Saturday – Brazil’s first chance to show off its new stadiums ahead of the World Cup next year – Dilma was booed and jeered by thousands of fans. Read more >>

For wealthy Chinese tired of putting their money in stocks, art and Pu’er tea, a new investment opportunity awaits: a real live racing car driver.

Asia Bankers Club will be introducing a young Formula One hopeful to dozens of financiers in Hong Kong next week, pitching him as a new “asset class” for investors looking for more diversified, not to mention fun, portfolios. Read more >>

Real Madrid and Barcelona are known for their annual gladiatorial contest for Spanish football supremacy.

Now the two clubs have become pawns in a proxy war among Middle Eastern airlines for global recognition. Read more >>

As Sir Alex Ferguson steps down after one of the most successful football managerial careers of all time, the numbers machine is kicking into gear – trophies, win-loss records, you name it.

The thing is, Manchester United FC is a statistician’s nightmare. A famous Guiness beer ad from a few years back said that 98 per cent of Man U fans had never been to Old Trafford, the club’s stadium. It’s not clear where that little factoid came from.

But one thing is for sure: in terms of its fans, Man U under Fergie has become one of the world’s leading emerging markets football clubs. Read more >>

After years when match-fixing allegations tarnished its image and the glamour of after-game parties often eclipsed the cricket itself, the Indian Premier League brand is making a comeback.

For the first time in four years the brand value of the tournament has grown this year, to $3.03bn, up from $2.92bn last year. Read more >>