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Pakistan is not playing in FIFA World Cup 2022, but Sialkot footballs are shining in Qatar

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadNov 22, 2022 | 16:03

Pakistan is not playing in FIFA World Cup 2022, but Sialkot footballs are shining in Qatar

Pakistan's history with FIFA World Cup tournaments. Photo: Getty Images

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? 

  • In Sialkot, a city in northern Pakistan bordering India, Forward Sports Company has been making world-class footballs for the World Cup for years. They are supplying the footballs this year too. 
We have once again been chosen to supply soccer balls for the World Cup, which is an honour for us and a testimony of the quality we have maintained.
- Khawaja Masood Akhtar, Chairman of Forward Sports
  • The company also provided the official footballs for the 2014 and 2018 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.   

  • The theme for the World Cup footballs is inspired by Qatar's culture, architecture, iconic boats and flag.

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. 

  • They are made by attaching the panels with heat. 
It is designed to support peak game speeds and, furthermore, is manufactured with strictly water-based inks and glues for additional sustainability.
- FIFA

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.

  • In 1982, Sialkot won a FIFA World Cup contract to make footballs for the first time. The 1982 World Cup was hosted by Spain. 

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.

Last updated: November 22, 2022 | 17:25
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