Sialkot: 28 November 2022: One of Sialkot’s 1,000 factories produces more than two-thirds of the world’s footballs, including the Adidas Al Rihla - the official ball of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar - which starts this month.
In Sialkot, there are 60,000 people employed in the soccer ball manufacturing sector, or 8% of the city’s total workforce. They often work long hours and hand stitch the panels of the balls.
In Sialkot, hand stitching is used in the production of more than 80% of soccer balls. The longevity and aerodynamic stability of the soccer ball are improved using this laborious technique. The seams are deeper, and the tension is higher than with machine-made stitches.
According to Bloomberg, stitchers earn roughly Rs160 ($0.75) per ball. Each one takes three hours to complete. A stitcher can earn approximately Rs 9,600 per month by stitching three balls per day.Even in a place with severe poverty, the wages are minimal. Researchers’ estimates place Sialkot’s living wage at about Rs 20,000 per month.
The bulk of those who sew the balls are women. On a normal day, they might sew two balls, go home to cook for their children, and then return to work in a nearby village in the late afternoon.