The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will be played with made-in-Pakistan football, Azim Khan, Head of Chancery at the Pakistani High Commission, said on Thursday in Abuja.
“The balls for this year’s World Cup tournament are being produced by my country,’’ Khan said.
He said the 2018 FIFA World Cup would make it a record fourth time his country would be producing the balls for the FIFA competition.
The envoy said the quality of the balls produced in his country was high, adding that “70 percent of hand-made footballs used across the world are produced in Pakistan’’.
He attributed the achievement to the high quality of leather materials used in his country for the production of footballs, adding “they have continued to draw global attention’’.
Khan also expressed optimism that the balls would produce the desired result when the tournament begins in June.
“The city of Sialkot in eastern Pakistan where the footballs are being made is famous all over the world for producing the finest quality sports goods.
“Footballs manufactured in the country have also been a part of the footballing extravaganza since a long time.
“Sialkot was also once the unassailable football production capital of the world — exporting about 30 million balls a year, an estimated 40 percent of global production.
“The production company, Forward Sports, which also makes footballs for the German Bundesliga, French Ligue 1 and the UEFA Champions League, was also the official football provider for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, according to a recent Aljazeera report,’’ he said.
“The footballs that will be used in the upcoming tournament is technically termed as thermo-bonded, and was first introduced at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“Before that, Pakistan had supplied hand-stitched football for almost all the World Cups from the 1990s to 2010.’’
The Aljazeera had quoted Khawaja Masood, the company’s chairman, as saying “this is an honour for us, that we are going to provide footballs for the World Cup once again. We are very excited to meet this challenge”.
Khawaja could not give the exact number of footballs the company was going to supply for the World Cup alone due to restrictions from Adidas.
He however said his firm produced a total of 700,000 footballs a month.(NAN)