Football has not gained much popularity as a sport in Pakistan largely due to the heavy influence of cricket. Notably, its national football team is the only team in Asia that has never won a FIFA World Cup qualifying game.
However the country produces more than 70% of hand-made footballs in the world. Until 2011, football was India’s second-largest export item. Pakistan then began to produce stitchless balls that were bonded together by heat.
Pakistan’s Sialkot town has over 1,000 soccer ball companies that employ around 60,000 people.
Pakistan delivered 38 million balls for $154 million ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, despite its FIFA rating of 198.
It’s intriguing to learn when and how Sialkot’s soccer balls got famous.
Soccer ball production in the region can be traced back to the British colonial period.
Football-crazed Britons used to order their supplies from the United Kingdom, and they would get upset while waiting for the shipment of footballs to arrive by sea.
According to folklore, in 1886, a British sergeant asked a Sialkot saddle maker to repair his ruptured ball, and after being impressed with his work, he ordered a batch of footballs from him.
Since then, the city has produced a vast quantity of footballs for players, fans, and the game itself.
Footballs were traditionally hand-stitched, but the employees’ stitching and artisan abilities were so good that the city of Sialkot was awarded a contract to produce footballs for the FIFA World Cup 1982, which was hosted by Spain, for the first time in 1982.
The Adidas Tango Ball, which was first unveiled for the 1978 FIFA Football World Cup, was improved for Pakistan’s footballs for the 1982 World Cup.
The leather ball used in the 1982 World Cup was updated, with rubber inlay over the seams for the first time to prevent water from pouring in.
As a result, it was the first water-resistant World Cup ball. This was a critical need since water seepage through the seams would cause the ball to become heavier.
However, owing to typical kicking, the rubber used to prevent water entry would wear out and would need to be replaced throughout the game.
It was the World Cup’s final real leather football.
Volleyballs, hockey sticks, cricket bats, and clothing are also produced in Sialkot.
Due of their high-quality end goods, local manufacturers believe Pakistani enterprises are stealing business from their Chinese competitors.