International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and Reliance foundation chairperson Nita Ambani has expressed her happiness on the merger of ISL club ATK FC and one of India’s most iconic club Mohun Bagan.
Nita Ambani, who is also the chairperson of Football Sports Development Ltd that operates Indian Super League (ISL), said that Bengal loves and lives football and she was happy for all the fans of football in the state.
“I think it was always on our mind that these are legacy clubs. Football needs to get ATK and Mohun Bagan together. I am just kind of… our campaign was ‘this is true love’. Bengal lives this… football is true love for Bengal. I am just happy for everybody in Bengal. We have this partnership going, as I said, we tried our best. I am so happy to see this happen this year.”
In an interview with India Today Consulting Editor (Sports) Boria Majumdar, Nita Ambani asserted her belief that the merger would change the landscape of football in India.
“I think after many of years of brainstorms, we have seen this historic coming together of two big names coming together — ATK and Mohun Bagan. I think it will change the landscape of not only football in Bengal but the landscape of Indian football.”
Talks about Mohun Bagan entering the cash-rich league started way back in 2017 when Bengaluru FC left I-League to join ISL.
The newly formed entity by the merger of ATK and Mohun Bagan will come into effect from June 1, 2020, and will take part in the ISL 2020-21 season.
Nita Ambani was full of praise for ISL, which has successfully completed 5 editions till now.
“1st I think, we all need to congratulate FC Goa for their historic spot in the most prestigious AFC Champs League. For ISL, this has been one of the most iconic years. We have got City Football Group, which owns Man City, come and invest in an Indian club. A decade ago, no one would have thought that a top club, a champions club (Manchester City) would invest in India.”
Nita Ambani has her eyes set not only on the ISL but she also wants Indian football to mark their presence on the world’s biggest stage. Holding her belief high in Indian football, she firmly believes that India could make it to the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
“My dream is to see India qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. There is a 48-nation spot, Asia will have 8 spots. India are now ranked 19th in Asia. If we move up to the 12th slot in Asia, we have a huge opportunity knocking on our door. It would be like a dream come true to see India take its rightful place in the world.”