MUMBAI India will launch a franchise-based badminton tournament next year on the lines of cricket's cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) with top shuttlers from across the world, the organisers said on Saturday.
The Indian Badminton League (IBL) will have six city-based teams vying for $1 million purse in the June 24-July 11 event, which the organisers claimed would be the richest prize-money tournament in the world of badminton.
"We accept that cricket's IPL is a great success and we are hopeful that the IBL will have the same kind of path-breaking effect on badminton," said Akhilesh Das Gupta, the president of the governing body of the sport in the country.
Since Saina Nehwal won a bronze in this year's London Olympics, badminton has seen a surge in popularity in the cricket-crazy country and the shuttler believes that the hefty money on offer will further boost the appeal of the sport.
"Post 2012 Olympics, badminton has reached a peak in India. I think the game has become big in the country, that's why the IBL is happening," the 22-year old told reporters.
"I'm confident the IBL will make the game even more popular amongst the masses and fulfill the high expectations it has raised."
Malaysia and Indonesia have already confirmed the participation of their top players while China's have been approached, organisers said.
The promoters of the league feel that the lure of the fat appearance fee in the tournament will be too hard to resist for the top-ranked players, who will be auctioned among the six franchises in March.
(Editing by Alan Baldwin)