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Last Updated:[02-07-2010 00:35:57 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Jabulani Controversy May Favour Dwindling Pakistani Exports

tradenews The hullabaloo over Jabulani, the official FIFA World Cup football may help the failing exports of Pakistan if the soccer governing body opted for Pakistan’s hand-stitched footballs over the Chinese thermally bonded ones after the tournament. Last week, FIFA stated that it would start a probe after acknowledging there was something wrong with the official Adidas ball, pending actions post-tournament.

Many players have likened the Jabulani to a 'supermarket ball', saying it is too unpredictable and flies through the air too easily. Goalkeepers have often expressed dissatisfaction about footballs at most mega events of late, but this is the first time even field players and coaches joining the chorus.

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon went on to say “I don't see why we can't just go back to the old black-and-white checkered version we all played with as kids.” Statistics show scoring was down by 16 goals in the first round as compared to last World Cup’s 117-101, and scoring from set pieces has also witnessed significant dip.

According to an APP report, Pakistan has exported around 3.5mn footballs worth $5.2mn for the ongoing FIFA World Cup grabbing only 30 percent of the total orders floated globally. The penetration of machine-made footballs in the international market has caused a serious dent to Pakistan’s hand-stitched soccer ball industry.

Footballs and other sports goods are manufactured in Sialkot, a Pakistani province which boasts of building an international airport with exporters’ fortune. Though Sialkot was producing footballs since a century ago, it gained international celebrity status when it produced the “Tango” ball for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, kicking off a lucrative industry.

The footballs from Sialkot are subjected to daily tests of quality in laboratories to supervise pressure, bounce, impermeability and shape. The making of footballs include professional automatons cutting sheets of synthetic leather in hexagons or pentagons, marking, drying the paint, dividing the pieces and sewing with needles, thread and thimbles.

Only a few years ago around 70 percent of world soccer balls were prepared in Sialkot and the country on average was exporting 40mn balls worth $210mn produced annually by some 60,000 highly skilled labourers. Pakistan’s soccer ball industry is awaiting a huge favourable decision from the FIFA for them to regain its coveted football exports share in the global market.

By Jose Roy

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