Bunhill: Sublime for soccer

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The Independent Online
BUNHILL'S first (and, with luck, only) story about the World Cup: the footballs you will be watching over the next few weeks will carry the name of Adidas, official suppliers to FIFA, but they will have been made in Sialkot, Pakistan. Sialkot? I hear you cry. Yes, a city 40 miles north-east of Lahore on the Great Trunk Road to the Khyber Pass - phrases that have a ring of Kipling's Indian Empire about them.

The 19th-century flavour is compounded by the comparison often made by the city's boosters with 19th-century Manchester - like Sialkot, a city of half a million people, full of thrusting entrepreneurs.

For the past 25 years one of their number, Naeem Javed, owner of the confidently named Sublime group, has been making footballs for Adidas - and was prepared to pay for an eight-year stint by an Adidas production engineer in Sialkot.

As a result, players will not be able to blame the quality of the football for their defeats - and American petrol stations and supermarkets will be flooded by most of the three million balls being produced for the occasion.

(Photograph omitted)