From next year, only approved balls will be permitted at major events such as the Paralympic Games ©Getty Images

The Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed) has announced eight equipment manufacturers it has licensed to produce boccia balls.

From 2022, anyone competing at a major international competition must use balls made by a BISFed-approved manufacturer.

From 2023, every BISFed-sanctioned competition will only be open to those with approved balls.

The new rule has not been without its critics - an online petition against it contends that the cost of buying mandatory sets of balls could mean teams reducing their numbers, and that it will widen a gap between rich and poor nations.

However, BISFed insists it is needed to tackle what President Dave Hadfield called "widespread practices of ball manipulation and tampering".

Ball-licensing regulation is necessary to address
Ball-licensing regulation is necessary to address "widespread practices of ball manipulation and tampering", according to BISFed ©Getty Images

Of the eight licensed manufacturers, half are based in Europe. 

Portugal's Boccas and Tutti, Greek company Poly-Sports and Handi Life Sport from Denmark account for half of the approved makers of balls.

Japanese company Apowatec, South Korean duo Ree Sports and Victory Sports, plus Gravity Boccia, based in Illinois in the United States, have also been given BISFed licenses. 

Thirteen manufacturers had applied for a license.