With Kolkata all set to host the FIFA under-17 Football World Cup, its largest sports bazaar — Maidan market in Esplanade — is swarming with people eager to buy jerseys of their favourite international teams. Located in the heart of the city, the market houses over 400 shops, of which 80 per cent sell sports paraphernalia.
A day before the tournament’s inauguration in Delhi, shop-keepers at Maidan market had their hands full. “Whenever a football World Cup takes place, we witness a huge demand for jerseys of teams like Germany, Spain, England, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, France, Portugal etc. This time, with the World Cup taking place in our country, fans of the game have gone crazy. Now nobody wants club jerseys of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Everybody wants jerseys of international football teams,” said Pradip Das, store manager of Amrik Singh Sports Goods.
Jerseys sold in this market are either locally-made or imported from China and Thailand. The locally-made jerseys are sold at Rs 100 while the ones imported from China are sold for Rs 330-400. Better quality jerseys imported from Thailand are sold at Rs 500.
With Brazil, Germany, France, Spain and England participating, their jerseys are in demand.
Ironically, jerseys of the host nation, which is making its debut in this tournament, are yet to arrive in the market. “As India does not play in the FIFA World Cup, there has never been a demand for jerseys of its team. We are hoping that once the tournament starts, things will change overnight,” said shop owner Amrik Singh.
The shops also print names and numbers on jerseys for additional charge. “We charge Rs 5 per alphabet. Most customers go for personalised jerseys as branded stores selling the same will not provide this facility,” said another shop owner, Mustaque. On an average, each shop sells around 50 to 60 jerseys per day during international competitions. But during the World Cup, shop-owners are hoping to double their sales.