Atletico Madrid, the Spanish La Liga giants, have announced their return to Indian football by partnering with Kolkata-based conglomerate RDB Group to form Inter Kashi, first-ever professional club from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
Inter Kashi is aiming to secure a direct entry into the I-League, India's second-tier league for the 2023-24 season. The club has also appointed Spanish coach Carlos Santamarina, who previously managed Jamshedpur FC in the Indian Super League, as their head coach. The club is looking for a direct entry into the I-League, India’s second-tier competition.
Atletico Madrid's Chief Executive Officer Miguel Angel Gil Marin said that the club was thrilled to be part of this ambitious project and would provide full support for the footballing and technical side of the club. The club released a statement announcing its new venture in India and highlighting its future plans.
"While the starting of the first-ever National-Level Club from Uttar Pradesh remains the primary target of this collaboration, in which Atlético will provide full support for the footballing and technical side of the club. In order to achieve the objective of making a lasting, impactful, and holistic change in Indian Football, the Club is looking to start “Atlético de Bharat” – its first Academy in India in the very near future, with a vision to have homegrown talents represent the National Team on a regular basis,” the statement read.
Vinod Dugar, the co-promoter of RDB Group, said that he was delighted to join hands with Atletico Madrid and hoped to make Uttar Pradesh the cradle of football in India. “We take great pride in getting the opportunity to start the newest football club in India from the nation’s legendary, historic, and eternal city," he said.
Inter Kashi is the second venture of Atletico Madrid in Indian football after they co-owned Atletico de Kolkata (now ATK Mohun Bagan) in the ISL from 2014 to 2017 and the club won two ISL titles during that period. From the 2023-24 season, the hierarchy of Indian domestic football is set to have a promotion of I-League teams to the ISL. As a result, RoundGlass Punjab, the winner of the I-League last season, will play in the ISL 2023-24.
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