Sports balls

The majority of sports balls are hand-stitched, often by people who work long hours in poor conditions for far less than legal minimum wage.

Below you can find out about:

Problems facing workers in the sport ball industry

About 75% of footballs are produced in Pakistan, mostly in the poor Sialkot region in the north.

Football, volleyball, basketball, and rugby are played the world over, but most people don’t think twice about the origin of the sports balls that are so central to these games. The majority of these balls are hand-stitched, often by people who work long hours in poor conditions. About 75% of footballs are produced in Pakistan, mostly in the poor Sialkot region in the north.  There are about 40,000 people in this region working in soccer ball production.  The next biggest producers are India, China and Indonesia.  Other stitched sports balls, including volleyballs and rugby balls, are also produced in these regions.  

Workers stitch balls both in factories as part of a production line and in their own homes, receiving ball pieces, ready for stitching, from manufacturers. 

Incomes below legal minimum wages

The income for sports balls stitchers is usually based on the quantity of pieces sewn, rather than an hourly wage.  Either way, most workers receive very little.  In an effort to make sufficient money to cover basic needs, workers often put in many extra hours of overtime.  Many work upwards of ten or 12 hours a day including weekends.  Regardless, their incomes are far below legal minimum wage. In India, the average wage for people stitching balls is 20 rupees, a third of the minimum wage of 63 rupees.

In India, the average wage for people stitching balls is 20 rupees, a third of the minimum wage of 63 rupees.

Because of their poverty, parents are forced to supplement their own inadequate incomes by having their children work as well.  A 1996 study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that there were more than 7000 children aged five to 14 working full time up to 11 hours a day stitching balls in the Sialkot region alone.  This figure does not include the children working part-time or those working in other regions.

Benefits of Fairtrade for workers

The Fairtrade system gives workers and stitchers in the sports ball industry an opportunity to improve their lives.

Among other things, Fairtrade Standards for sport balls production include the following:

  • Fairtrade Standards for hired labor require that wages for workers equal at least the national minimum wage. Additionally, Fairtrade Standards require that benefits and wages to workers are progressively improved.
  • Fairtrade Standards require that producers do not use child labor.
  • Each Fairtrade certified sports ball producer has to have a fairtrade Premium Committee comprising of management, factory worker and stitcher representatives. The Fairtrade Premium Committee consults with those they represent and decides upon the best use of the Fairtrade Premium money.

To find out more about the Fairtrade Standards for sport ball production, please download and read the full product Standard.

Fairtrade certified producers

To find out which sport ball factories are currently Fairtrade certified, you can check the database available on the FLO-CERT website.

Buying and selling Fairtrade sport balls

If you want to find out what products are available in your country, visit the website of your national Fairtrade organization. If you’re interested in selling Fairtrade sports balls in your country, see our information about selling Fairtrade.

Share this page: 
 

Copyright © 2011 Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, e.V. | Contact us  |  Accessibility  |  Impressum  |   Privacy  |  Credits