Listening in | Tradition-rich Calcutta setting trends

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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.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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