Kolkata (Calcutta), India | Dating to 1893, the Indian Football Association Shield is one of the world’s oldest cup competitions. Administered by the sport’s governing body in West Bengal, the event that begins Thursday will feature what organizers claim is a first in world football: microphones on referees. IFA honorary secretary Subrata Dutta says that the communication will be one-way between the referee and TV technicians, with use of the audio feed at the discretion of the program director. “The referee will not know when the microphone is on or off, so it shouldn’t distract his mind,” Dutta says.
According to Asian Football Business Review, sponsorship of the current IFA Shield tops 10 million rupees (roughly $220,000). ESPN Star Sports in India is pumping money to the game in West Bengal and will fly five participants from the Kolkata Police Friendship Football Tournament for a tour of London football grounds. “Soccer is a craze in Kolkata, be it international, European or local,” says Sricharan Iyengar, ESPN Star Sports’s vice-president for sales and marketing. More than 500 teams participate in the police tournament.