When a leading data analysis organisation processed over 18 million users with over 8 billion data points from across various social networks, they had the requisite data to analyze the world cup and football fans in India. They found that around 90% of the fans are huge fans o



f Bollywood star, Salman Khan! They analyzed over 2,00,000 fans of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for their various attributes (interests, brand affinity, influence, to name a few) and Salman Khan is the biggest brand that fans relate to, today. This could be because of him frequently promoting football, either in the form of charity matches for his organization, Being Human, or in the form of him buying the Pune football team in the newly instituted Indian Super League. Whatever be the reason, Salman is by far the most popular star when it comes to football or any other sport in India.

However, Salman Khan’s appointment as the goodwill ambassador of India’s Rio Olympics contingent prompted strong reactions from the sports fraternity and social media users.
Sportspersons, including wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and sprint legend Milkha Singh criticised the Indian Olympic Association’s move to appoint Khan, who has previously courted many controversies. London Olympic bronze medallist, Dutt questioned what Khan had done in the field of sports to be involved in the Rio Olympics. He also said the Olympics was not a place for an actor to promote his movies.

ABP News reported that Salman won the battle between Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and himself, because the IOA opined that he connected more with the youth and sportspersons.  However, boxing legend Mary Kom and badminton champion Saina Nehwal has backed the Bollywood actor and has expressed happiness at Bhai’s appointment. He has always been a sports lover, he plays good cricket, football and is a good cyclist.
If there’s one thing no one will argue about – no, not even a hater – it is that Bhai always wins. It’s somewhat easy how the IOA came to its decision. With Amitabh Bachchan facing a smear on his reputation following the Panama Papers scandal and Aamir Khan earlier falling out of favour because of his unguarded intolerance remark, it was clear that they weren’t  going to be our man for the Olympics.
Some detractors have questioned Salman’s credentials as a sportsperson. But surely, Salman is not supposed to play on the ground.
His role as a brand or goodwill ambassador is to attract people’s attention to Olympic sport. And, using his massive public appeal, try and get sponsors for Indian sport.
It may be recalled that even Saif Ali Khan is brand ambassador of Olympic Gold Quest until the Rio Games this August. I am neither a Bollywood loyalist nor a Salman or Saif fan. But I can say with confidence that both have mass following and the power to pull crowds.

And in his forthcoming film ‘Sultan,’ in which Salman assays the role of a wrestler. But I think his critics have already made his job easier by generating buzz around the movie and publicising it for him. Incidentally, former top wrestler Jagdish Kaliraman had guided Salman for his role as a wrestler for the movie. opines that it would have been better idea to select a non-controversial sportsperson as India’s Goodwill Ambassador for Rio Olympics, however, considering brand Salman’s mass appeal and his contribution to sports and various other social causes, he was the next best bet for the Indian Olympic Association, in the near absence of a sportsperson with such mass appeal today.

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