New Delhi: India’s cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will promote English Premier League football for the sports channel that beams the games live across the country, the channel said on Thursday.
Dhoni will serve as “brand ambassador” for the Star Sports channel, which said in a statement it plans to launch Hindi-language commentary for the first time for more than 100 EPL games this season.
The move to use the popular cricketer is an attempt to harness the EPL’s rising popularity in the cricket-mad country. The EPL, watched by millions across India, has so far been broadcast only in English.
Dhoni, a Manchester United fan, said he was delighted to be associated with the Premier League.
“Soccer is extremely exciting and very close to my heart,” he said in a press release from Star Sports.
“I was a goalkeeper during my schooldays. Even today, I play soccer to warm up for key cricket matches. If I am not busy with cricket, I am always busy with the Premier League during weekends.”
Dhoni urged cricket-mad Indian fans to embrace other sports as well. “I want them to be passionate about cricket as they are, but at the same time one needs to give healthy respect for other disciplines as well,” he said.
India are currently ranked a lowly 146th in world football, but the sport’s popularity has grown due to live television coverage of matches played around the globe.