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Kolkata franchise of ISL launched, christened Atletico de Kolkata



Kolkata, May 7 (IANS) The Kolkata franchise of the Indian Super League (ISL) was formally launched Wednesday and christened Atletico de Kolkata, signifying Spanish soccer giants Atletico Madrid's strong presence as a partner.

Atletico Madrid owner Miguel Angel Gil Marin launched the team alongside the other co-owners — former Indian cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group chairman Sanjiv Goenka, Ambuja Neotia Group head Harshvardhan Neotia and SMIFS Capital Markets Ltd chief Utsav Parekh.

Speaking on the occasion, Miguel said it was his dream to see an Indian soccer player turning out for Atletico Madrid.

"Through this franchise, the club will work to improve the game in India and help design a series of sports centric growth models. We will utilise our athletic and management expertise in promoting sports and developing Atletico de Kolkata."

Ganguly described the event held at a plush city hotel as the beginning of "something special".

Hoping that the ISL and Atletico de Kolkata would give a big push to the game in the metropolis, Ganguly said: "I think this will revolutionise football here. It is a terrific journey for the game of football in the city. The association with Atletico would enable us unearth quality talent".

Marin said his club agreed to be a part of the ISL in view of India's huge market.

The Spanish side's corporate development director Ignacio Aguillo referred to India's huge population and said Atletico Madrid would strive to combine the passion for the game in this part of the world with discipline for producing results.

"We see no reason why India can't live up to its potential if you put your mind to it. At the end of the day it's only a numbers game," said Aguillo.

The Spanish club officials, who arrived in the city Tuesday and inspected the Salt Lake stadium and the Barasat stadium, said Atletico would give support to the franchise to form a good team. "We will help in the maturing of young talents through our academy."

Atletico's director of business development Javier Martinez said the club had modest means, but its philosophy was to take good care of its people. He remarked that Atletico de Kolkata would be integral to Atletico Madrid and not a mere extension.

However, none of the Atletico de Kolkata bosses could give clear cut answers on the coaching staff, timing of the players' auction or signing of the footballers.

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