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Germans a big draw at Hockey India League player auctions

Kalinga Lancers pays a whopping $105,000 for Moritz Fuerste

Karan Choudhury & Kumar Akash  |  New Delhi 

Germans a big draw at Hockey India League player auctions

With a combined purse worth $4.35 million, six Hockey India League (HIL) franchises on Thursday bought about 100 players at an auction conducted in New Delhi. While players from two-time Olympic champion Germany were a big draw, 15 of the 22 players were taken for more than $50,000 each were Indians.

Top players from 20 countries were in the spotlight as the HIL franchises bid for the 2016 edition, the fourth of the tournament which will see new rules laying more emphasis on field goals. Some 260 players were on offer on Thursday. For the 2016 edition, the purse size for each franchise was increased to $725,000 from $650,000 last year.

In what looked like a big-bang start to the auction process, Kalinga Lancers, owned by Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation and Mahanadi Coalfield, bought German midfielder German Moritz Fuerstse for a whopping $105,000 earlier in the day. (BIG-GAME HOCKEY)

Each team is supposed to have a mix of 12 Indian and eight foreign players. While German and Australian players were favourites with most franchises, and commanded big money, Indian players managed to hold their own.

Akashdeep Singh, the forward for ONGC who was bought by Uttar Pradesh Wizards on Thursday, was the best-paid Indian player ($84,000). Gurmail Singh, a defender for Punjab and Sind Bank, was bought by Dabang Mumbai for $81,000. Among other well-paid Indian players, Sandeep Singh went to Ranchi Rays for $81,000, Gurvinder Singh Chandi to Jaypee Punjab Warriors for $75,000, and Mandeep Singh to Delhi Waveriders for $70,000. (THE BIG PLAYERS)

Germans lead the way

Germans seemed to be selling like hotcakes, with HIL teams getting in a bidding war of sorts to bag their favourite players.

Fuerste, the midfielder who carried a base price of $30,000, had Delhi Waveriders and UP Wizards scrambling to get hold of the man from a two-time Olympic champion team. Finally, however, it was Kalinga Lancers that bought Fuerste for an eye-popping $105,000. Fellow Germans Florian Fuchs (Dabang Mumbai) and Tobias Hauke (Uttar Pradesh Wizards) were both sold for $96,000.

The base prices, decided by the players, had been kept at a minimum of $2,600 and a maximum of $30,000.

HIL teams made it clear that Germans, whose national team had been a two-time Olympic champion, would remain the favourites at the auction. “We are predetermined to bid for German and Australian players as the best players here,” said Dilip Tirkey, mentor for Kalinga Lancers.

Star Sports to push app in Tier-II, -III towns

Sports broadcaster Star Sports plans to go mobile in a big way for HIL. The broadcaster said it had seen great response to sports being watched live on the mobile platform, so it planned to capitalise on that and expand further with this year’s HIL.

Star India’s popular app Hotstar focuses on entertainment and sports. The broadcaster said it received an encouraging response from Pro Kabaddi League as well. “We see that this segment of media consumption has risen significantly in a short period, so Star India is very keen on making all its content available on its mobile app platform,” said Chaitanya Diwan, senior vice-president, Star Sports.

Star Sports will target the mobile segment extensively this year. According to Diwan, Hotstar has seen close to 25 million downloads so far. “Sporting events push adoption of our apps in Tier-II and -III towns. HIL has gained popularity, and a lot of advertisers have already come on board. Demand from consumers has also increased. We are bullish about such sports growing and increasing revenues in India,” Diwan added. “As bandwidth grows in the country, the popularity of our mobile platform to watch these sporting events will also increase.”

First Published: Fri, September 18 2015. 00:57 IST