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India a Real goal in 2004
- Club president plans second promo onslaught

Madrid: Calcuttans might yet be able to watch their favourite soccer superstars, including David Beckham, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and more at a stadium near their home.

Next year, if Real Madrid president Florentino Perez’ plans work out right, the entire might of the club could land in India, especially Calcutta, on a special tour that is expected to also include the US. The club has this special way of raising millions of dollars through tours, as they had shown in their recent tour of Asia (though the Malaysia tour was cancelled because the locals felt Real were over-pricing themselves).

[A Staff Reporter in Calcutta adds: Recently, before their tour of Asia, Real agents had contacted the Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management to act as a conduit for matches in this country. The excessive price tag forced the Indian aspirants pull back, and this time, said a spokesman Wednesday, the organisation is not too keen to jump into the fray, though not everything I decided. Maybe, said he, there will be sponsors on the horizon.]

Real wowed millions of fans in China, Japan and Thailand on their Asia tour which ended with Sunday’s 2-1 win over Thailand’s national side.

But even before the Spanish season begins they are planning next year’s charm offensive, which is to be their next stop. That would be the US and India.

Next stop, the United States and India. Chicago seems to be the favourite for the Real boss in the US, while Calcutta probably has his fancy in India.

The new agenda is the brainchild of Perez, who sees the conquest of new markets as vital to his game plan to make Real the footballing ‘brand’ of choice in countries where the game has yet to reach the levels of popularity it has in Europe, Asia and South America.

As club marketing executive Jose Angel Sanchez put it following Real’s Asian tour: “We now have millions of new fans gained on this tour. Now we have to go to the US,” AS sports daily quoted Sanchez as saying Wednesday.

Real see a coast-to-coast US tour as a vital next step — but India also has its appeal. Although a footballing backwater given its traditional obsession with cricket, Indians are increasingly becoming interested in the ‘global game’ with Beckham having an indirect, if perhaps involuntary part. (AFP)

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