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Why is 70% of world football made in Pakistan? A Detailed Case Study

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Football has a massive fanbase across the world. The global and most prestigious tournament of football, FIFA World Cup has umpteen audiences from every nation, irrespective of the teams playing in the event. But has anyone ever wondered where these balls of the renowned sport are manufactured? 

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The footballs are manufactured in the city of Sialkot of Pakistan. Sialkot is now a major manufacturer of football. The ball of the popular sport was earlier manufactured in India. Football was among the largest exported commodities of India until 2011 when footballs were hand-stitched. Traditionally, footballs were manufactured by stitching. However, Pakistan started manufacturing stitch-less balls.

Football manufactured in Pakistan

The footballs manufactured in Pakistan were stitch-less. The balls were made by sticking them together using heat. These balls are sturdy and bring out the shape of the ball even better. This new manufacturing technique of sticking the ball together using heat was fruitful for Pakistan. The Islamic nation got numerous contracts for the FIFA World Cups in 2014 and 2018. The football manufacturing business in Sialkot thrived. In Sialkot, Pakistan, approximately 70% of the world’s footballs are manufactured now. 

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 Football made in Pakistan
Image Source: KLM Institute

The procedure of manufacturing the footballs in Sialkot

The manufacturing process starts with a machine preparing sheets out of hot rubber. Then they cut them into round shapes, which outline the bladder or the inner lining of the football. These bladders are inflated and kept for a few minutes for hardening the rubber. Workers cut the patches for the balls to their external shapes. Leather was used earlier to make the outer surface, since it soaks up water, the factories now make use of synthetic material. Each ball is made up of 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons, all are put together in different ways. The training and lower-end balls are made by machine stitching and the higher-end balls are made by a thermo-bonding mechanism. No stitches are used, the whole part is molded using advanced technology.

Footballs in Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022

In Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022, the Pakistan football team is not participating, but the country has made its presence at the global event in a unique way. The footballs being used at the global tournament have been manufactured in Pakistan by the renowned sports goods firm, Adidas. The name of this football is Al Rihla which means ‘The Journey’ in Arabic. The football goes by the name of Adidas but, has been manufactured in Pakistan.

Al Rihla football
Image Source: Samaa

The core of the ball provides consistency for fast-paced action with maximum rebound accuracy. The best footballs should rebound around 60 percent. That means if the ball is dropped from a height of around 1 meter above the ground, it should rebound up to 60 centimeters. The rebound should not be more, but should not be less either. Al Rihla balls fulfill these parameters. The crust of the ball has a new 20-piece panel shape. This crust or exterior improves accuracy, flight stability, and swerving.

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A peek in the History

There is an amusing tale about how the football manufacturing industry started in Pakistan. The story dates back to the times of the British colonialism. The British soldiers and officers loved to play football. However, they had to place their orders to British manufacturers to supply them with footballs. These balls took days to arrive by ship.

One day a British officer asked a Sialkot-based saddle maker, who used to make saddles for his horses, to repair his saddle. When the saddle-maker did a great job, the officer felt that perhaps he could make footballs too. Then the officer placed an order for a dozen footballs. This is how the football manufacturing industry began and then prospered throughout the world. Pakistan-manufactured footballs ultimately met the strict FIFA standards.

FIFA football upgradation in 1982

Pakistan-manufactured footballs for the 1982 World Cup were an upgraded version of the Adidas Tango Ball. Adidas Tango Ball was initially presented for the 1978 FIFA Football World Cup. The 1982 World Cup ball was an upgraded version of the leather ball, with rubber inlaid over the seams for the first time to prevent water from leaking in. As a result, it was the first ever World Cup to be played with water-resistant balls.

 This was necessary since the ball would get heavier owing to water seepage through the seams. However, the rubber used to prevent water entrance would wear out by normal kicking and needed to be changed throughout the game. It was the last genuine leather World Cup football. 

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