• Announcement
05. July 2022

Fairness in football does not start on the pitch, but much earlier - for example in the production of the ball. But few people know that professional balls often contain a bladder made of natural rubber. This raw material is an important source of income for around six million small farming families in cultivating countries like Indonesia or Thailand. But many can barely feed their families despite the hard work, as their income is far too low. Fair play looks different.  

Commentator Tom Bartels, who provides the right stadium atmosphere with his voice in the film, emphasises: "Fair rules are a matter of course in sport - but unfortunately not in our supply chains. We have to treat people and the environment better. Sport can set an example here." 

What is natural rubber?

Latex, the milky sap obtained by scratching the bark of the "Hevea brasiliensis" - the rubber tree, is the basic product for natural rubber. Due to its ecological requirements, the rubber tree can only be grown in the so-called rubber belt on both sides of the equator, with over 90 percent of the rubber produced in Southeast Asia. By far the most important countries for growing the rubber tree are Thailand and Indonesia, followed by Vietnam and the West African Côte d'Ivoire. Since the turn of the millennium, the area under rubber has practically doubled to over 14 million hectares. Most of the production is done by smallholder families on areas of less than two hectares.

What are the production conditions like?

The BMZ is committed to sustainable and fair production conditions for raw materials. Natural rubber is an important natural basis for many products and we encounter it not only in football, but also in vehicle tyres, seals, condoms, disposable gloves, mattresses and many other everyday products. Approximately 75 per cent of global natural rubber production is used in the automotive and tyre industries. The cultivation of rubber is very labour-intensive and is mainly carried out by 6 million smallholders, who are responsible for about 80 percent of global production. In the EU alone, one million tonnes of natural rubber were consumed in 2020. Germany is the largest consumer. Natural rubber is subject to highly fluctuating world market prices, which strongly influence the income situation of smallholders. In the past, high natural rubber prices led to considerable expansion of land with the associated consequences such as deforestation, destruction of peat soils and land rights conflicts.