Pakistan's economy has been battered by the recent devastating floods. One study estimates the damages and economic losses to be more than $30 billion. Amid this gloomy state of economic affairs in the country, the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar has brought some respite for Pakistan - which is more than just entertainment.
Did you know that Pakistan is the country providing the footballs for the 2022 World Cup?
While Pakistan's football team, which ranks 200th out of 211 teams, may not be playing in this World Cup, Pakistan-made footballs are shining on the global stage in Doha.
Al Rihla: This year's footballs are named "Al Rihla", meaning "The Journey" in Arabic.
Linda é a Al Rihla, você é no máximo arrumadinha 😍 pic.twitter.com/LDyJ4Hu6Wv— Copa do Mundo FIFA 🏆 (@fifaworldcup_pt) November 21, 2022
Quality: Earlier, Sialkot used to supply hand-stitched footballs for most World Cups from the 1990s to 2010. In 2014, along with Adidas, Forward Sports introduced the "thermo bonded" football for the first time.
Sports goods exports rake in $1 billion annually for Pakistan and footballs alone bring in $350 million to $500 million. Sialkot is not only known for its World Cup footballs, but also for producing everything from hockey sticks, and cricket bats to sports shoes and gloves.
How did Sialkot become the world's football factory? The legend goes that in 1886, a British officer in Sialkot requested a local saddlemaker to fix his punctured football. The officer was so pleased with the result that he made an order for a batch of footballs.
Adding the (unintended) laughs: An ad on the Telestar18 footballs went viral this week for the (unintended, we're guessing) peals of laughter it had the Internet erupt in. "Dear world, thank you for playing with our balls," the ad read.