Bangladesh ranks low among the world's football teams and didn't qualify to play in the FIFA World Cup this year, but the populous country is still an important player in Brazil — much of the apparel worn by fans and some of the players’ jerseys bear the “Made in Bangladesh” label.
Garment manufacturers, already the country's largest export earners, have earned at least 500 million US dollars in export orders to sew fan World Cup jerseys of most of the players of the 16 participating teams, including Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Iran, France, England, Switzerland, Belgium, Chili and Germany. The sales are expected to boost the industry's growth.
Bangladesh has also manufactured the Brazilian national team's jerseys. The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) decided that “Made in Bangladesh” would be written at the lower part of the jersey to pay tribute to the victims of 2013 Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than 1,100 people and Tazreen Garments fire which killed more than a 100 people, according to media reports.
Karima Haque at football news site Side Tackle congratulated Bangaldesh for its work:
We […] commend and salute the thousands of pairs of hands that has made this praiseworthy feat possible. They have, and they will, make Bangladesh proud in the foreseeable future.
Tanvir Ahmed, a Liverpool Football Club fan in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, tweeted:
I really feel proud when I realize all Brazil jersey are made in #Bangladesh this year. Really proud!!!
— Tanvir Rahman (@pritomtanvir) June 12, 2014
The World Cup apparel is not only popular in countries participating in the tournament, but also at home in Bangladesh, a country of about 160 million people. Football is a favorite sport here. Official team jerseys from Nike, Adidas and Puma are available but costly, so many fans prefer to buy unofficial jerseys from roadside stands or shops.
The gear is proving to be a boon for business. A Bangladeshi garments manufacturer and popular actor M. A. Jalil Ananta explained in an interview in a local newspaper about the economics of the export:
পোলো ব্র্যান্ডের জার্সিগুলোর দাম আমরা প্রতি পিসের জন্য সর্বনিম্ন নয় ডলার করি নিচ্ছি। অন্য সময় আমরা সাধারণত একই ব্র্যান্ডের এই পোলো শার্টের দাম প্রতি পিস সাড়ে ছয় ডলার থেকে সাত ডলার রাখি। এতে করে এখানে যেসব গার্মেন্টস এই কাজ করছে, তারা প্রতি পিসে বাড়তি দুই ডলার করে পাচ্ছে। ফলে আমরা রেমিট্যান্সও বেশি করে আনতে পারলাম। আমরা দুদিক থেকেই লাভবান। এক. বিশ্বকাপে একধরনের অংশগ্রহণ, দুই. ব্যবসায়িকভাবে লাভবান। এ ছাড়া বাংলাদেশের পরিচিতিও বাড়বে।
We are exporting Polo brand football shirts at 9 US dollars a piece. Usually the price of this merchandise is 6.30-7.00 US dollars. But due to high demand for the jerseys, the manufacturers supplying them are getting an extra 2 dollars. So our foreign currency income has increased. We are profiting both ways: 1) we can be involved in the World Cup and 2) earn increased profit margins. This also boosts Bangladesh's reputation.