Actor John Abraham, co-owner of Guwahati franchise for the upcoming Indian Super League, announced the name of his team as ‘North East United FC’, which is under discussion with four overseas clubs to have a “strategic alliance” for the much-anticipated tournament.
“I always had a fascination for football and North East. When ISL process started, we decided to have the team Guwahati or else we would have stayed away. By naming the team after the entire region, we want to project the eight states as a force to reckon with in Indian football,” Abraham said.
Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, the Bollywood star said he will try his best to keep the franchise as the “purest football team”.
When asked about association with foreign clubs, Abraham said: “Many foreign clubs expressed interest in co-owning the team, but we do not want to dilute our stake. However, we are interested to have strategic alliance with some of them.
“At present, we are having discussions with four different foreign clubs to have an alliance. In the next couple of weeks, we will announce it. The first step of this will be to finalise the colour of the jersey.”
He, however, declined to mention the name of the clubs. On player selection, Abraham said North East United Football Club will have four foreign players from another co-owner’s club, Shillong Lajong FC, while the rest will be Indian footballers.
On keeping his team as well as the ISL a controversy free event unlike the IPL, Abraham said: “The first important issue is betting and we all are against it. We have spoken to the players and they have understood our point. We have to keep football absolutely clean.”
The actor said ISL has laid down guidelines prohibiting anyone unrelated to the event coming closer to the teams during their practice sessions as well as to dressing rooms.
Talking about the upcoming FIFA World Cup, Abraham said his favourite team is Brazil, which plays the game in “motion” and termed it as “poetry as motion”.
The next strong team, according to Abraham, is Argentina and hoped that Lionel Andres Messi will mesmerise the world.
“German team is one of the youngest and is very energetic. Nobody can count out Spain as well. Belgium is the underdog this time,” he added.