2014 FIFA World Cup
Honourable senators, when we break for the summer, all eyes will be on the World Cup in Brazil. While you’re watching the beautiful game, you may notice the colourful Brazuca soccer ball — the official ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. What you may not know is that the Brazuca ball has an interesting history.
You might remember the controversy surrounding the soccer ball in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. For this World Cup, Adidas has been developing the Brazuca ball for more than two years. Testing involved 600 of the world’s top players and 30 teams in 10 countries across 3 continents. When a Chinese supplier was unable to meet high demands for the ball, Forward Sports, based in the eastern town of Sialkot, Pakistan, stepped in at the last minute.
The town of Sialkot has a history of producing hand-sewn footballs in competition with Chinese machine-made footballs. Pakistan is the largest supplier of hand-sewn footballs in the world — that is 30 million to 42 million balls per year. Forward Sports has been working with Adidas since 1995. It has manufactured soccer balls for the German, French and Champions leagues. The company took up the challenge to get their production facility up and running in 33 days, when it usually takes 6 months.
You might be wondering why I am telling you all this. Well, over 350 of the workers in the factory are women. These women are putting together 100 soccer balls per hour. Over 3,000 Brazuca balls from Sialkot will be used in the World Cup. In a country that is male-dominated and where it is frowned upon for women to work outside the home, this is a great step forward for women and a reflection of the changing environment in Pakistan.
This is also important given the current climate in Pakistan, such as the recent violence in Karachi. It is nice to see some uplifting news coming out of the country.
Honourable senators, another interesting bit of trivia is that Canada has supplied the grass for the World Cup. DLF Pickseed in Manitoba developed the grass which covers the pitches in each of Brazil’s 12 World Cup soccer stadiums.
Despite having teams that did not qualify, both Canada and Pakistan have still played a major role in this year’s World Cup. Without the footballs and the grass on the pitch, there would be no game.