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Pakistan, the football capital of the world

Despite having never played at a World Cup, Pakistan is an important nation on the global footballing stage.

Pakistán, la fábrica de balones en el mundo

Pakistan is an unexpected major player when it comes to world football despite the fact that the Pakistani national side has never qualified for a World Cup with cricket being the dominant sport in the Asian nation.

However, the country does rule the roost when it comes to manufacturing footballs with over 60% of the world’s soccer balls being made in Pakistan.

Major international brands such as Nike, Adidas, Lotto, Reebok, among many others, have their main manufacturing plants on in the city of Sialkot, which is one of the most important economic centers of the Asian country with Forward Sports recently producing the Al Rihla 2022 World Cup ball for Adidas.

A detailed view of the adidas ‘Al Rihla’ official match balls
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A detailed view of the adidas ‘Al Rihla’ official match balls Mike Hewitt - FIFAGetty

“In Sialkot there is a long tradition of producing soccer balls. There are companies that have been established for four generations. We now have many workers with the ability and experience to manufacture the balls,” explained an executive director of one of the many ball-manufacturing companies.

The Punjab city is also known as ’The city of balls’, due to that most of its inhabitants are dedicated to the manufacture of footballs with more than a thousand ball factories in Pakistan.

The industry employs 600,000 people (a quarter are women), and generates 1,300 million dollars a year in exports. According to locals, child exploitation in the industry is a thing of the past with workers being offered a competitive wage.