World’s Soccer Balls Come From Sailkot Pakistan
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With the FIFA World Cup 2022 in progress in Qatar, did you know the world’s soccer balls come from Sialkot, a city in northeast Pakistan. The region contributes nearly 70% of the world’s supply this includes Adidas’s Al Rihla, the official ball of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

According to Bloomberg, the soccer ball manufacturing industry in Sialkot employs about 60,000 people—that’s about 8% of the city’s population. Workers often work long hours and sew panels together by hand.

More than 80% of the sports balls made in Sialkot are handmade, an incredibly hard work that makes the ball more durable, and with better aerodynamic stability. The seams are deeper and the stitches have greater tension than those sewn with machines.World’s Soccer Balls Come From Sailkot Pakistan_2Workers at the Anwar Khawaja Industries are paid about $0.75 per ball, depending on how much work they put in. Each one takes three hours to complete and there is no limit to how many balls they can make in a day. Stitchers usually make 3-6 balls a day and earn roughly $3-$6 per day, which is very low in comparison to other areas of Pakistan with a living wage hovering around $20 per day.World’s Soccer Balls Come From Sailkot Pakistan_1According to Anwar Khawaja, most of the women who make soccer balls can stitch two in a day. They might sew balls at his workshop in the morning and spend the afternoon helping out in other villages.

In Sialkot, men typically work in different stages of the manufacturing process, including preparation and inspection. A prohibition on child labor enacted in 1997 removed children from the workforce, leading to an ongoing worker shortage. In a 2016 report, it was listed as a threat because it “took away a whole slice of a potential skilled generation.”

Workers apply glue to textile materials, forming part of the soccer ball’s synthetic leather. The cheaper balls are made with material from China, while the higher-quality ones come from South Korea. For any balls destined for the German Bundesliga or other European leagues, they’ll be made with material from Japan.World’s Soccer Balls Come From Sailkot Pakistan_3Soccer balls are traditionally made up of 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons sewn together by 690 stitches. However, a growing number of soccer balls are now constructed using thermoplastic bonding, also known as thermo bonding. These balls’ stitching is much smaller and more difficult to detect, resulting in balls that are far too expensive to transport, more prone to damage than those with weaved stitching, and more difficult to repair.World’s Soccer Balls Come From Sailkot Pakistan_4In order to meet FIFA standards, finished soccer balls go through a rigorous testing phase. Here, a ball is undergoing a sphericity test to ensure it’s exactly the right size and shape for bouncing and true flight. People around the world buy an estimated 40 million soccer balls each year—and sales are expected to jump during the World Cup.

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