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Their businesses soar during World Cup

Last updated on: June 17, 2010 15:42 IST

Their businesses soar during World Cup

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Indrani Roy Mitra in Kolkata

The greatest festival of soccer -- World Cup Football 2010 -- is here! And it has brought with it the all-too-familiar frenzy, excitement and enthusiasm that grip soccer fans worldwide once in every four years.

While the players are sweating it out in the field and journalists, sport analysts and technicians are busy scrutinising the games, a certain section of people here in India are busy cashing in on this great football festival.

We are talking about manufacturers and dealers of sport goods. For them, this is the time to rake in the moolah.

Just as the players leave no stone unturned to put in their best during the games, these traders too put their best foot forward in luring customers into buying sports goods ranging from jerseys to footballs, headgears to even war paints.

Reason? Soccer fans across India make sure that they dress up like their heroes on the field as they sit down to watch the games on television.

How much money do the sports goods' dealers make during the World Cup season on an average? Which items fetch the maximum profits? Which country's jerseys sell the most. We spoke to some traders and manufacturers to find out.

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Image: A sports good shop in Kolkata.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Jerseys? Argentina scores over Brazil

Sports goods that fetch the maximum profit are the jerseys and in this category, those of Argentina sell like hot cakes.

Says Abid Nawaz of Sports Plaza, a prominent shop in Central Kolkata's B C Roy Market, "Though the general notion is that Brazil as a soccer team is more popular than Argentina in Kolkata, Argentinian jerseys get us more money than Brazil's."

According to him, the cost price of each Argentinia jersey varies between Rs 110 and 120 whereas its selling price can go as high as Rs 190 to Rs 200.

Sheikh Asikul Kader of Maharaj Sports in the vicinty, too, present almost the same figures. During the World Cup season, "our monthly turnover trebles", he claims.

Both at Sports Plaza and Maharaj Sports, buyers can have their favourite quotes or slogans of their choice silkscreened on the jerseys by paying Rs 100 to Rs 150 extra.

Along with jerseys, headgears, flags and war paints too make big business during the World Cup season.

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Image: Argentina coach Diego Maradona hugs Lionel Messi.
Photographs: Reuters
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Their businesses soar during World Cup

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Vuvuzela is the new craze

The sports goods' dealers this year had to make an important addition to their kitty -- vuvuzela.

The latter is a horn approximately 1 metre in length. It emits a strong buzzing sound.

Right from the first match of World Cup, the vuvuzela has raked up enough controversy and has also climbed the popularity chart fast.

Though only poor copies of this South African football fans' horn are doing the rounds of Kolkata markets, each 'fake' vuvuzela comes at a price as steep as Rs 300.

"During Argentina or Brazil matches, we hope to sell each piece for a price as high as Rs 500," says Saukat Hossain, a roadside vendor in Kolkata's Madan Market.

For Sheikh Sahabaz, a sports goods trader in Park Circus market, sales figures soared steadily because of this South African trumpet.

"From the first day of World Cup, I sold vuvuzelas (albeit the fake ones) worth Rs 15,000 at Rs 100 each. This is a princely sum for a single sports item," he said with a grin.

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Their businesses soar during World Cup

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Flags sell like hot cakes

Flags of the participating teams too find many takers during the World Cup season.

"In the very first week, we sold about 1,000 flags of Brazil and about 850 flags of Argentina," said Montu Das of Victory Sports Goods near Kasba.

What do soccer fans do with the flags?

"We waft the flags high in the air, wear our favourite team's jersey, blow into the vuvuzelas, put on the colours of the teams we support and we scream our lungs out," says Ananda Mitra, a soccer enthusiast who visited Das' shop to buy a Brazilian jersey.

"It's a festival that comes visiting once in four years. And we cannot let it go without proper celebration, you see," he says before getting busy to choose a Brazilian flag for his friend.

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Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Their businesses soar during World Cup

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Wall and hoarding painters make hay

Wall and hoarding painters are in high demand throughout the World Cup season. As soccer enthusiasts gear up to cheer their favourite teams, they hire professional wall painters from far off places to adorn the local clubs, sports units etc.

Reasons Amritanshu Datta, a private firm employee and a football fanatic, "We must have those paintings on the walls of clubs and localities to create the proper ambience.

We are not lucky enough to be in South Africa to watch the matches live but we need to create the magical atmosphere as best as we can."

This is where the professional graffiti and hoarding makers step in.

"I manage to earn about 10,000 during the World Cup on an average. I paint about 200-250 hoardings or walls a day during World Cup whereas on other times, I paint the same number of hoardings a month," artist Ajay Kar put in.

Also, he can jack up the price of each hoarding or wall according to demand, Kar confessed.

"In fact, whenever my family demands anything pricey, I try to defer the purchase till the World Cup as I know it is during this time that my income would double and I would be able to cater to their needs."

In the last 12 years, Kar bought a refrigerator, television and a bicycle from three World Cup earnings.

"May Kolkata's craze for football last forever," he says with a wide grin. 

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Image: Walls are adorned with World Cup-related paintings.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Their businesses soar during World Cup

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'World Cup is our chance to make up for any loss'

Apart from jerseys, flags, other items that fetch handsome profit for the sports goods dealers are footballs, headgears and war paints.

"It's quite fashionable for football fans now to wear the head gears and flag colours of their favourite teams, " said Apurba Majhi, a roadside sports goods vendor at Jadavpur in South Kolkata.

Each headgear sells for anything between Rs 50 and Rs 125 whereas each container of war paints (flag colours) comes for Rs 100 to 150.

"We mostly sell flag colours of Brazil, Argentina, France and Italy," he informed.

"We go alll out to cash in on the World Cup and stock our shops to the brim during this soccer festival. World Cup, to us, means a season of hope. It provides us the golden opportunity to make up for any loss that we incur," said Majhi.

"Which team wins the Cup does not matter as long as we manage to reap handsome benefits from this gala event," he signed off.


Image: A buyer picks a jersey depicting the Argentinian star footballer Lionel Andres Messi's name.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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