Nearly 70% of the world's soccer balls are made in Sialkot, Pakistan. Factories there produced balls for the 2022 World Cup and sold replicas to fans. Here's how workers put together a soccer ball from start to finish.
Most of the world's soccer balls are produced in the Sialkot region of Pakistan. This manufacturer, Bola Gema Pakistan, produces 160,000 balls every month. This machine creates sheets out of hot rubber and then cuts them into round shapes. Those form the inner linings of the balls. After that, a factory worker will inflate the lining.
Then the worker places the lining into a metal steam machine, where it bakes for a few minutes, hardening the rubber. Workers cut patches for the ball's external shell. Each ball is made up of 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons. These workers are using sewing machines to put together soccer balls. And this worker is using a thermobonding mechanism to put together a higher-end soccer ball. Balls made through this method have no stitching on the ball.
He weighs the ball to make sure it falls between 420 and 440 grams. This one weighs 433 grams, the perfect weight for a FIFA-approved soccer ball. A ball like this can cost over $100 in the US. Before the soccer balls are exported, they go through one last test in this machine. It shoots the ball at least 2,000 times to make sure the stitching stays together, the waxing is still in place, and the ball doesn't lose its shape.
Then workers use this machine to deflate the balls, getting them ready for shipment all over the world. The industry remains a major source of income for people in Pakistan. There are at least 1,000 football factories in Sialkot alone employing nearly 60,000 people.