Pakistani-made balls will shine at the Doha World Cup

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Karachi, Pakistan

Pakistan’s national football team is 200th out of 211 teams in the FIFA World Rankings, but the country’s more than 200 million people will always feel like they are part of the 2022 FIFA World Cup final which will be played in Doha this winter.

Together with China, Pakistan is supplying the soccer balls which will be used in the next mega-event, which this time will be held in winter instead of summer due to the hot weather in the Qatari capital.

“We have once again been chosen to supply footballs for the World Cup which is an honor for us and a testament to the quality we have maintained,” said Khawaja Masood Akhtar, President of Forward Sports. , a global sports contract manufacturer. Adidas brand.

Nestled on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Sialkot, workers at the company’s sprawling factory are working overtime to ensure the on-time delivery of footballs.

The city, which borders India, is renowned for producing the highest quality sporting goods and has a long history of supplying soccer balls for mega-events.

Producing high quality soccer balls is not Sialkot’s only strength. It also exports sporting goods ranging from cricket bats to hockey sticks and shiny balls (cricket and hockey) to other accessories like kits, shoes and gloves.

The country earns $1 billion a year from sporting goods exports, including $350-500 million from soccer balls alone.

Declining to give the exact number of balls the company will provide for the World Cup due to Adidas restrictions, Akhtar said it would be “not in the thousands but in the millions”.

Environmentally friendly match balls

Dubbed “Al-Rihla”, in Arabic for “The Journey”, the official match ball for the 2022 World Cup was unveiled in March by Adidas in Doha.

Forward Sports, which also manufactures soccer balls for the German Bundesliga, French league and Champions League, was also the official soccer supplier for the 2014 and 2018 World Cups in Brazil and Russia.

The soccer ball that will be used in the upcoming tournament is technically called “thermo bonded”, which was first introduced in the 2014 World Cup.

Prior to that, Pakistan provided hand-stitched footballs for most World Cups from 1990s to 2010.

Other types of footballs produced in Sialkot are “glued” and “hand sewn”.

Heat-sealed balls are made by setting the panels with heat – the latest technology adopted by Adidas and transferred to Forward Sports in 2013. There are no stitches.

“We have made some changes in (the design of) the soccer balls this time, keeping in mind Qatar’s culture, environment, architecture and flag,” Akhtar said.

“And it will be environmentally friendly,” he said, adding that for the first time only water-based inks and glues were used in the manufacture of soccer balls.

Soaring inflation and energy tariffs combined with rising labor costs did not prove to be a problem for Akhtar.

“Everything is going well, as we are making our plans with all of these factors in mind. In fact, we have hired additional manpower to ensure on-time deliveries,” he said. .

Football in Pakistan cricket frenzy

Football is a popular sport in Pakistan, which is otherwise obsessed with cricket, especially in rural areas. Still, the national team is ranked 200th in the FIFA World Rankings.

Lacking glamor and government funding while having to deal with intra-federation schisms and a land-grabbing petty mafia that has swept the playing fields, football in Pakistan has steadily declined from its fourth-highest rank on the Asian continent. in the 1960s.

Straddling the edge of the Arabian Sea, Lyari, a small slum south of Pakistan’s commercial capital, Karachi, is known as “mini Brazil” among football fans for the talented soccer players that this ramshackle locality has produced over the decades.

Over the past 74 years, the region has produced a large number of players who have won many titles for the country, especially between the 1950s and 1960s, known as the golden era of the national football team. from Pakistan.

In April last year, FIFA suspended the Pakistan Football Federation’s membership for six months, citing a hostile takeover of the federation’s headquarters by a rival group.

The action was taken when the group refused to vacate the office and hand it over to a FIFA-approved group.

Membership, however, was reinstated by FIFA after a spell of more than a year on Thursday.

The Anadolu Agency website contains only part of the news offered to subscribers of the AA News Broadcast System (HAS), and in summary form. Please contact us for subscription options.

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