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Bridging the gap: Arsenal building a rare connection with fans in India

  • A look at how the club are creating a special bond with the Indian fan base
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 30 Aug 2016, 15:40 IST
Arsenal Puma
The ‘Tunnel of Time’ in UB City Mall

Arsenal are currently one of the best-supported club teams in world football. The North London outfit have a rich history and are revered by football fans around the world for their elegant style of play. Under the leadership of their long-serving manager, Arsene Wenger, the club have achieved a lot of success. With this, Arsenal have garnered a global fan following rivalled by few in the world. 

The Premier League currently has the highest viewership as compared to every other football league around the globe. This exposure has helped big clubs form strong alliances with several high profile sponsors. In 2014, sportswear giants, PUMA, joined hands with Arsenal to form the biggest partnership in the club’s history.

In the last few years, Arsenal have seen a spike in their popularity in India. A primary reason for this has been the efforts made, to ensure the Indian audience have been able to engage with the club and their players.

Arsenal and PUMA hold the first ever Jersey launch in India

Freddie Ljungberg

Before the start of the 2014/15 season PUMA unveiled the official Arsenal kits in Bangalore. The kit launch took place at UB City and club legend Freddie Ljungberg helped make it a special event.

The club treated the fans gathered for the event to a nostalgic evening as they set up a special recreation of Arsenal’s history with the ‘Tunnel of Time’.

The mini museum contained a collection of memorabilia which included a model of the Arsenal dressing room, a plaque which displayed every game of Arsenal’s unbeaten run as well as several framed pictures depicting club legends and key moments from Arsenal’s history.

Freddie Ljungberg

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But the highlight of the event was the unveiling of PUMA’s Home, Away and Cup kits by Ljungberg after the Swedish great had taken eleven lucky Arsenal supporters on a walk through memory lane, acting as the guiding light in the Tunnel of Time.

Ljungberg also took the time to visit the city’s football team Bengaluru FC who also have a tie up with the sportswear company. He talked to the players associated with the local club and also engaged with the Arsenal soccer schools for which he is the ambassador.

Sol Campbell and Ray Parlour unveil 2015/16 kits in Mumbai

Sol Campbell Ray Parlour

Arsenal continued their wonderful initiative from last year by organising PUMA’s kit launch for the 2015/16 season in Mumbai. This time former Gunners captain Sol Campbell and club hero Ray Parlour were invited for the launch.

Both Campbell and Parlour were part of the famous ‘Invincibles’ team that went the whole of 2003/04 season unbeaten en route to the Premier League title

A huge gathering of 2000 Arsenal fans attended the event in Mumbai’s Mehboob Studios to witness their club legends launch the kit alongside PUMA-India’s MD Mr.Abhishek Ganguly.

The players welcomed questions from fans and media alike during the Gala event. The experience was a very special one for those present as it’s not every day one gets the opportunity to interact with Arsenal icons.

Sol Campbell Ray Parlour

The event also included a screening of the inside story of Arsenal’s unbeaten season in 2003/04 taking the fans through a sentimental journey of the historic achievement.Both Ray Parlour and Sol Campbell were very pleased with the experience they had with the Indian fans. Here’s what they said:

“This is my first visit to India and I am having a great time! I love Indian food, the hospitality has been superb and it is remarkable to see how many people have come out today to watch this.” – Ray Parlour

“India has a bright future in football. Football begins in the streets; hence, football in India has to pick up from the grass-root level. The youth need to be encouraged and a structure needs to be set in place in order to develop and hone the talent and skills present among the youth, today.” – Sol Campbell

Arsenal pay tribute to Indian festivals Holi and Diwali

Diwali is one of the most celebrated festivals in India. And the Indian Arsenal fans were given a pleasant surprise by their heroes, who wished their Indian followers a Happy Diwali in a video compilation.

It was a nice gesture from the club and their players as many stars like Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Mesut Ozil featured in the clip.The players were seen lighting the traditional Diyas (lamps) in authentic Indian wear and paying homage to the traditions of the festival.

Arsenal’s Diwali Tribute:

It didn't just end there. In March 2016, Arsenal celebrated another of India’s famous festivals - Holi. In the video, the players were seen engaging in a friendly battle of colours, much like their fans in the subcontinent.

Mohamed Elneny, Nacho Monreal, David Ospina, Calum Chambers, Kieran Gibbs and Hector Bellerin took part in the celebrations, which was very well received by the Indian fans.

Arsenal players celebrate Holi:

With the help of several initiatives from Arsenal and PUMA the popularity of the club has risen over the past couple of years. The engagements have helped the Indian fans connect with the club bridging the gap between London and India. These events have helped strengthen the bond between Arsenal and the Indian Gooners fan base and made the Premier League giants one of the most supported clubs in the country.

Published 26 Mar 2016, 12:33 IST
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