Hundred of TV, Radio and Social Media networks are covering each and every moment of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Brazuca is the name given to the official World Cup ball of the FIFA World Cup 2014, the ball which kicked off the first match on June 12 between Brazil and Croatia, and which will be the ball for all coming World Cup 2014 matches!
But what you might not know is who made this ball, and where?
The Brazuca ball has been produced by the hands of women in the second largest Muslim country, Pakistan. It was a matter of great pride that the World Cup footballs were provided by a Pakistani company.
The Brazuca was manufactured in the eastern town of Sialkot, Pakistan, after they were awarded the contract by Adidas, with short notice, after the original manufacturer in China failed to meet the demand.
In fact, it’s not the first time for Pakistan to make World Cup footballs; Pakistan has a long history of producing top-class balls. “Tango”, the football of World cup 1982, was also made in Pakistan. Also, The Official Olympic London 2012 football, “The Albert” was also made in Sialkot, Pakistan.
The owner and CEO of Forward Sports in Sialkot, Pakistan, Khwaja Masood Akhtar, has long dreamed of producing the official ball for the FIFA World Cup. He said: “It was when I felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup that I dreamt of a goal of my own, to manufacture the ball for the biggest tournament on the planet.”
Forward Sports’ factory employs about 3,000 people and it is the only factory that employs women — providing a rare opportunity for formal employment for women in rural areas. There are currently around 600 women on the assembly line.
The official ball of World Cup 2010 in South Africa was made by a factory in Shenzhen, China. But the new one will be for Akhtar’s factory, the largest football producer in Pakistan today.
“When they announced that we would be making the official ball we had a party,” said Akhtar. “This gives us good satisfaction that this big brand has trusted us that the job can be done in Pakistan. It is very exciting, not only for me but for my colleagues and the country.”
The following photo shows a woman employee using hot air as she sticks outer panels on a soccer ball, inside Forward Sports factory in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. (Photo by Sara Farid/Reuters)
Another photo shows another employee taking finished balls out of the production area inside factory of Forward Sports in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. (Photo by Sara Farid/Reuters)
90% of the workers on the Brazuca are women, which is considered uncommon for Pakistan, where women usually stay at home and take care of their families. Akhtar admitted they were more diligent and meticulous than their male counterparts.
Akhtar says that he pays his workers the minimum wage, currently 10,000 rupees per month (102 US dollars); he admits that it’s Pakistan’s cheap labor that has permitted him to compete with China, where labor costs have risen sharply in recent years.
The next photo shows an employee adjusts outer panels of a soccer ball inside factory of Forward Sports in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. (Photo by Sara Farid/Reuters)
The 2014 Brazuca ball offers a new specification to the ‘Jabulani football’ which used in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and caused widely debate due to its ‘erratic’ and ‘unpredictable flight’. Adidas went back to the drawing board and spent two and a half years creating a new, more suitable ball, which they named ‘Brazuca’ (slang for ‘Brazilian’).
Adidas unveiled the Brazuca at a launch event took place in Rio de Janeiro at Parque Lage on 3 December 2013. The launch event featured a 3D light projection, which revealed the Brazuca to everyone in attendance.
The next photo shows employees conduct a final check to fix any cavities in the seams of balls inside factory of Forward Sports in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. (Photo by Sara Farid/Reuters)
The balls go through a harsh testing process at Forward Sports; in addition to being tested on their physical endurance, they are also subjected to heat, humidity, and high intensity UV rays to see how they’ll cope with the hard sun in Brazil. About 600 players and 30 teams tested it across ten countries including famous stars like Lionel Messi (Argentina), Steven Gerrard (England), and Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany).
To produce Brazuca, which is 437 grams in weight and 69 centimeters in circumference, you’ll need forty-minute process from start to finish.
The next photo shows an employee adjusts outer panels on a soccer ball inside factory of Forward Sports in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. (Photo by Sara Farid/Reuters)
One of the women workers has no idea who Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar are, but she cannot wait for the World Cup, solely because she helped make the footballs and said, “I’m really looking forward to the World Cup and inshallah (God willing) we will watch the matches. The balls we make will be used and all the women working here are very proud.”
The next photo shows an employee conduct a final check to fix any cavity in the seams of a ball inside factory of Forward Sports in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. (Photo by Sara Farid/Reuters)
The next photo shows an employee checks the shape of a ball inside factory of Forward Sports in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. (Photo by Sara Farid/Reuters)
The wage that workers the workers get is only $100 (£60) a month, whereas the retail price of a single Brazuca is equal to $160 (£95). Despite the heartwarming story of their personal connection to the balls (and a chance to work as a woman in Pakistan), the 2014 World Cup has come at a heavy cost: a ban on peaceful protest in Brazil, “death squads” in the ghettos (favelas), and continued destruction of Brazil’s rainforest.