Olympic footballs: Proudly made in Sialkot
Throughout the history of football world cups and other major FIFA events, the world has seen one brand deliver the most astounding soccer balls, carved to perfection and tested in adverse conditions to exceed all FIFA standards for an ‘Official Match Ball’.
Yes, we’re talking about the German brand, Adidas.
But what lies behind the Adidas logo on these soccer gems is the sweat and blood of hard-working rural women, belonging to the city of Sialkot, Pakistan – an effort concealed in disguise, under a dangerous quilt of consumerism.
Till the advent of the year 2000, Pakistan was making 75% of all the soccer balls consumed by this entire planet, making it by far, the greatest supplier of footballs in the world, marks a report by the US government. Though the market share has dropped considerably in the past decade and Pakistan’s supply share into the world market has dropped down to around 40%, its unmatched hand-stitching quality in the world keeps winning Pakistani balls a place in all major FIFA tournaments, despite the presence of heavy competitors such as China, India and Thailand.
So China may be producing more soccer balls annually through machines, it all comes down to quality over quantity, when Pakistani hand-stitched balls and Chinese machine-made balls come head to head for the big FIFA selection process.
It was in the FIFA World Cup 2010 that the Pakistani soccer ball didn’t win a place in the grand tournament for the first time in a long time, and instead, the machine-made Chinese ball, Jabulani was selected over the hand-made Pakistani predecessor, Teamgeist.
But as the tournament progressed, the Chinese Jabulani came under heavy criticism for its inaccuracy and difficulty to control and dribble, with hate pouring in from almost all the greatest boots in the game. All this forced Adidas to return to its most acclaimed soccer ball variation line ever – The Tango, bearing the ‘Made in Pakistan’ tag. So it’s been made public, the Adidas Albert is the official game ball for London 2012 Olympics, coming hand-stitched straight from the soccer-production capital of the world, Sialkot.
Tom Cleverley, the Manchester United player who unveiled the ball at City of Coventry Stadium speaks about Albert,
”The Albert certainly has a unique name and striking identity. It is like no other ball I’ve seen before and it is going to really stand out on the pitch. The ball looks youthful and that is what London 2012 is meant to be about.”
The Adidas Albert sports a sequence of triangular panels, thermally bonded together for a highly reliable trajectory in flight. A woven carcass and a novel bladder beneath the outer surface of the ball, give Albert increased air retention and minimal water uptake. To enhance the ball control, each panel is covered with a grip texture, supporting boot to ball contact. The extra striking colours on the ball are in line with the London 2012 Olympics colour palette.
The Albert is also available for public purchase as part of the merchandise on the official London 2012 Olympics online store, for a sum of £70, where clicking on the ‘Details’ tab unveils the ‘country of manufacture’ being Pakistan.
Good job Pakistan!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.