Rebirth of the kabaddi World Cup

Kabbaddi-caps Captains of the teams participating in kabaddi World Cup | via 2016kabaddiworldcup.com

Despite kabaddi's disappearance from school playgrounds, the tag team sport is making a comeback on the international stage. Riding high on the recent successes of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), the kabaddi World Cup returns after a nine-year gap, with the focus clearly on the promotion of the sport in the 12 participating countries. India, the sole holder of the title, will once again host the tournament that begins today.

Owing to the lack of fan following, the competition was held only when sponsors were available. Both the inaugural edition in 2004 and the second one in 2007 were hosted and won by India. The emergence of the PKL in India has clearly brought the sport back from the lull that it has gone through.

The global event organised by the 32-member International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) will take place at Ahmedabad. The group stage will consist of two pools with six teams each, playing in a round-robin format before the semifinals. The final is to be played on October 22.

Though the Kabaddi Federation of India has hosted five other World Cups since 2010—all of which were won by India—the tournament was not recognised by the IKF, as this was played in one of the Indian styles, as opposed to the international format of the game. The Indian version of the World Cup followed the Punjabi circle style, where the arena is a circle and the rules vary.

The PKL, which began in 2014, follows the international standard and is credited for popularising the sport, especially among the urban masses in India. Small-time players have become household names, once again bringing to light the impact that commercialisation can have on sport. The success of the league spurred the international body to resurrect the neglected global event.

The event, though, has been marred with controversies. Pakistan, considered to be India's most capable opponent, has been dropped from the competition, owing to the cross-border tension. IKF president and founder Deoraj Chaturvedi had announced that Pakistan would not be participating “in the best interest of both nations”. This did not go down well with the Pakistan federation, which likened their omission to a “football World Cup without Brazil”. Pakistan insisted that India should be barred from playing as well.

With Pakistan ruled out, Iran seems to be India’s strongest challenger, with the host having played the Middle East country in both previous finals. Among the 12 nations, Poland will participate in the kabaddi World Cup for the first time.

Interestingly, several players of the participating nations have taken to the sport recently and had been professionals in other sports such as rugby or soccer. While these first-timers will be looking to popularise the sport in their countries, the attention will be clearly on the Indian stars.

The IKF has been keen to expand the sport to countries beyond Asia, where kabaddi is mostly played and followed. Kabaddi has been part of the Asian Games since 1990, and India has won all seven gold medals. Though there have been efforts to include it in the Olympic Games, the Olympics status is given only to sports that are played by men in ‘at least 75 countries and four continents and women in 40 countries and three continents’.

The first two World Cups were relatively low-key events held in Mumbai and did not attract much attention. The organisers have gone all out this time around to ensure that the sport does not once again fade into oblivion.


Pool A Pool B
Argentina Iran
Australia Japan
Bangladesh Kenya
England Poland
India Thailand
South Korea USA


Match Date Time Teams
1 07/10 20:00 IND vs KOR
2 07/10 21:00 USA vs IRN
3 08/10 19:00 ENG vs BAN
4 08/10 20:00 POL vs KEN
5 08/10 21:00 IND vs AUS
6 09/10 19:00 KOR vs ARG
7 09/10 20:00 USA vs JPN
8 09/10 21:00 THA vs IRN
9 10/10 20:00 ENG vs AUS
10 10/10 21:00 THA vs POL
11 11/10 20:00 IRN vs KEN
12 11/10 21:00 IND vs BAN
13 12/10 20:00 POL vs JPN
14 12/10 21:00 AUS vs ARG
15 13/10 20:00 THA vs KEN
16 13/10 21:00 BAN vs KOR
17 14/10 20:00 ENG vs ARG
18 14/10 21:00 USA vs POL
19 15/10 19:00 KOR vs AUS
20 15/10 20:00 IRN vs JPN
21 15/10 21:00 IND vs ARG
22 16/10 19:00 THA vs USA
23 16/10 20:00 KOR vs ENG
24 16/10 21:00 JPN vs KEN
25 17/10 20:00 POL vs IRN
26 17/10 21:00 AUS vs BAN
27 18/10 20:00 USA vs KEN
28 18/10 21:00 IND vs ENG
29 19/10 20:00 BAN vs ARG
30 19/10 21:00 THA vs JPN
SF1 21/10 20:00 TBD vs TBD
SF2 21/10 20:00 TBD vs TBD
Final 22/10 20:00 TBD vs TBD
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Topics : #Kabaddi

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