World Cup supporters wear jerseys made from yarn produced in a Letterkenny factory.

Football fans from all over the world have travelled to South Korea and Japan to support their teams in World Cup 2002.  

Along with hundreds of thousands of others decked out for the games at home, most of these supporters share one thing in common – they’re all wearing Donegal jerseys. The yarn used in 19 out of the 32 World Cup nations’ replica jerseys was manufactured by Unifi in Letterkenny, and it’s specially designed for the heat of Japan and Korea.  

Dolores Carr, Marketing Manager with Unifi Letterkenny explains why, 

The garment itself is designed to create a cool motion, and to create a turbulence so that the players will be cool, but also our yarn then has a wicking property, it removes the moisture as quickly as possible from the body to the outside of the shirt, and then evaporates.

Unifi has been working hard since October to building their yarn production and reached a peak about a month ago, prior to the start of the World Cup.  But even before that, when England qualified, they saw the sales of that particular fibre double overnight.

At the height of production, Unifi was making enough fibre to produce 150,000 jerseys a week, and it’s geared up now for a quick reaction to supply those countries progressing to the next round.  

Staff are following the games with interest, but Dolores confirms that Ireland is still, of course, number one, 

...as people do well, we’re seeing production peak...The bigger the country the better, but obviously we’re rooting for our own home country to do well.

Regardless of whoever wins the World Cup, there’s a bonanza in it for Unifi, and after this, the company is setting its sights on the European Championships.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 13 June 2002.  The reporter is Eileen Magnier.