Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) has acquired the exclusive media rights to broadcast the Durand Cup in India between 2023 and 2024.
As part of the deal, over the next two years, the broadcaster will televise the legendary football tournament, currently in its 132nd glorious Edition, on its sports channels in India as well as across the subcontinent: Afghanistan, Maldives, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
The 132nd edition of the Durand Cup will kickstart on August 3, 2023 and will witness a total of 43 high-octane matches between 24 teams, up from 20 last year. The finals are scheduled for September 3, 2023. Audiences can watch the tournament LIVE on Sony Sports Ten 2 channels and the matches will also be available for livestreaming, exclusively on SPN’s premium OTT platform, SonyLIV.
First played in 1888, the Durand Cup is Asia’s oldest football tournament and the third oldest in the World. Started by Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, the then Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, the Durand Cup is the only tournament in India that pits all Indian Super League (Indian top division) teams against top I-League (second division) and other division teams, as well as teams from the Armed Forces, against each other.
The iconic tournament is conducted by the Durand Football Tournament Society (DFTS), whose President is the Chief of Defence Staff, with the Service Chiefs of the Army, Airforce, and Navy, being its Vice-Presidents. Organized by the Indian Army, on behalf of the three Services, the tournament is currently being conducted by Eastern Command. It is also unique in the sense that it rewards the winners with three glittering trophies, the Durand Cup (a rolling trophy and the original prize), the Shimla Trophy (also a rolling trophy and given by the residents of Shimla in 1904) and the President’s Cup (for permanent retention and presented by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s first President, in 1956).
The 24 teams of the 132nd Edition have been divided into six groups of four teams each. Three of these groups will play their matches in Kolkata, while Guwahati and Kokrajhar in Assam, will host two and one group respectively. Guwahati and Kokrajhar will also host one quarterfinal each, while the rest of the knockout games will be played in Kolkata. This year’s tournament will also see the participation of foreign teams after a gap of 27 years, with the Army teams of Nepal and Bangladesh also confirmed their participation.
Football fans are set for a treat, particularly given the many popular derbies lined up on the roster. Prominent among them will be the Kolkata derby, one of the biggest footballing derbies in the world, between Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Emami East Bengal. Others include the Kerala derby between ISL side Kerala Blasters and 2019 champions Gokulam Kerala and the two southern derbies between Hyderabad FC and Chennaiyin FC and champions Bengaluru FC and Gokulam Kerala. The North-East derby will also feature a clash between North-East United FC and Shillong Lajong.
The previous 131st edition, witnessed Indian legend Sunil Chhetri lift his first ever Durand Cup, a tournament where he was initially spotted, when his Bengaluru FC defeated Mumbai City FC 2-1 in a high-octane final at Kolkata’s hallowed Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), the venue of this year’s final as well.