Football fever in India too

Football fever in India too
Indian workers pack footballs ahead of the World Cup Football 2014 at a manufacturing unit in Jalandhar.

India is not known for its footballing prowess and is ranked a lowly 154. However, India will be present in Brazil during the World Cup, which starts on June 13.

Footballs made in Punjab will be kicked around in Brazil's stadiums during the tournament. Even though cricket is the dominant sport in India, there are still millions following the game and this World Cup has whipped up interest in many parts of India.

In 2010, a staggering 700 million people watched the Spain-Holland final on television. This is a 10th of the estimated global population of seven billion.

Of these, 155 million (22 per cent) were from India, according to statistics provided by media research agency TAM India.

As sports-fanatic people, Indians, like Singaporeans, go crazy over football every four years. Scenes of football-crazed fans in Kerala painting their faces in the colours of Brazil or Argentina, and clashes in Kolkata about the superiority of Roberto Carlos over David Beckham, or teens sporting multinational jerseys along Clarke Quay and Boat Quay and even the heartland community centres in Jurong or Tampines, are common.

Up to July 13, the world does not just play football, it watches it, bets on it, argues about it and spends money on it. It will be one of those rare occasions when cricket will be on the back burner.

Through FIFA-approved vendor brands, manufacturers from Ludhiana and Jalandhar have exported sports products to Brazil. For instance, Jalandhar based Rattan Brothers has supplied 80,000 football balls through UK-based Hy-Pro that has the official FIFA licence for supplying the product for the World Cup this year.

Rattan Brothers director (exports) Tilak Khinder told The Economic Times: "We have supplied 80,000 football balls through Hy-Pro International for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Moreover, this being a World Cup year, we have seen a 20 per cent jump in orders for balls from other regions such as Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland and France, among others."

In addition, Meerut-based National Sports and other Indian manufacturers have supplied training and practice kits such as free-kick dummies, corner flags, cone markers and linesmen's flags.

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