Hopes younger viewers there will get kick out of soccer

IMG’s Teddy Forstmann continues his global push, announcing Thursday that an IMG joint venture had acquired all the commercial rights to soccer in cricket-crazed India.

IMG, partnered with Mumbai-based Reliance Industries, inked a 15-year deal with the All India Football Federation to restructure, promote and popularize soccer, hoping to appeal to India’s younger generation. Half of India’s population is under 25.

“We are incredibly excited about the future of football in India,” said IMG chief exec Forstmann. “It is the second most popular sport in the country, with a massive and passionate fan following. The excitement and exuberance that was evident in the streets of the major cities in India during this year’s World Cup, as well as the estimated 110 million Indian television viewers of the games, is a good indication of potential for future success.”

The package includes media, sponsorship and advertising rights. Financial terms for the deal were not disclosed, but a source said IMG Reliance paid more than $140 million for the rights.

This is the second large deal in India for IMG Reliance in a year. Earlier, the joint venture announced it was acquiring the commercial rights to basketball in India in cooperation with the Basketball Federation in India.

Soccer training facilities in India will be modeled after IMG’s sports academy in Bradenton, Fla.

IMG is expanding its international footprint rapidly. In November, IMG announced it is creating a joint venture with Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista to launch a sports and entertainment businesses in Brazil.

Venture is being created as the country with the largest economy in South America prepares to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics and Paralympics in 2016.

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