World Cup Weekly: Cheap Pakistani Balls, and other FIFA Madness

Jun 23, 2010
*Special to asia!

Here's a roundup of how the giant footballing event is affecting Asia, from Bangladesh to Hong Kong.


It isn't just well-paid footballers who are sweating buckets over the super-duper Jabulani balls Adidas designed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

In Sialkot, a Pakistani city (population: 300,000) at the foothills of the Himalayans, locals are contracted by Adidas to handstitch replicas of the Jabulani. (The ones being kicked around in South Africa now were an earlier batch machine-made in China.)

Each one of those replicas can easily fetch around US$50. That is slightly less than what the people who make them by hand earn – in a month. They will take home at least US$85.

Most, however, do not get quite so much.

According to local NGO, OurPakistan, the monthly wage of more than half of the ballstitchers was less than the state-mandated minimum of US$70, which at around US$2 a day, barely enough to subsist on. In fact, says OurPakistan, more than half of those who work in Sialkot do not even get that.

In the 1990s, Sialkot was making more than 75% of the world's footballs. Today, it shares that ball-making market with other big players India, China and Thailand.

In a report released by the International Labor Rights Forum this is an industry where child labour is still being utilised.

For these children, the football isn't just a dream they hold in their hands. It may be a livelihood as well.



Denmark plays Japan in the first round Group matchup.

Denmark plays Japan in the first round Group matchup.

Photo credit:



Bangladesh may be a cricket-crazed nation but don't mess with them when it comes to football.

Riots broke out in the capital Dhaka, when the telecast of the Argentina-Nigeria match was interrupted by a routine hour-long nightly power outage.

Enraged football fans attacked power stations and hundreds of police had to be brought into bring the mob under control. At least 30 people were injured.

The power supply companies have now ordered more than 5,000 factories to shut down for five hours every evening to save electricity, so Bangladeshis will watch upcoming matches without hindrance.



Yes, football can be a dangerous sport. Even the watching of it can be hazardous.

The Hong Kong Department of Health issued a statement, warning residents of the World Cup threat.

“... even though crispy snacks (such as potato chips and fried food) and alcoholic beverages could add to the World Cup festivity, it is important to maintain healthy eating, get sufficient sleep, avoid tobacco or excessive alcohol...”

Yes, tobacco and alcohol, the twin evil handmaidens of South Africa 2010.

The advisory well, advises,

“Reduce alcohol content by adding ice.”

“Do not get into rounds.”

“When you feel like smoking, wash your face, do stretching exercises, try deep breathing and drink water to divert your attention from the urge.”

Yes, you have been warned.

Read the entire advisory here.



The debauched are not the only ones falling prey to the malevolent World Cup. Even the pious are not spared.

During the 2006 World Cup, Buddhist monks at a monastery in northern Thailand missed their walk, during which they receive their alms from locals.

A concerned lady who had prepared food for the monks got concerned when she did not see them She visited the monastery and found them stumbling out bleary-eyed, having stayed up to watch the World Cup matches telecast from Germany.

The time difference meant they would have to stay up till the wee hours to catch the matches.

Thankfully this year, with South African time just four hours behind Thai, instead of the German seven, football-loving monks can be more bright-eyed the next day after.



A South Korean soft drink capitalises on the World Cup.

A South Korean soft drink capitalises on the World Cup.

Photo credit: barnkim



In the Thai capital Bangkok, the state of emergency declared by the Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva made it illegal for more than five people to gather at any time.

This obviously made watching the match at a pub a bit of a problem.

Thankfully the Thai authorities have made an exception for football fans.

The authorities assured football fans they will not be arrested for watching the matches. They are even allowed to don a jersey that is red – the colour of the anti-government Red Shirts whose protests crippled the Thai capital.

The AFP news agency quoted an army spokesman as saying: "It's no problem to wear a red shirt and cheer at the football as long as there are no guns involved."

Good news, then, for England fans.



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dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

Contact Dan-Chyi