Sports Balls

Sports balls promote compassion, unity and joy. Sports like football, handball, volleyball or rugby that cause billions to cheerfully play or watch together would simply be not possible without their most important component: the ball. However, the people that make the majority of these sports balls have few reasons to be cheerful, because their occupation is marred by precarious working conditions and very low incomes.

Together with consumers and traders, Fairtrade empowers workers to change this unsatisfying situation and receive their fair share of the global sports ball business. The Fairtrade Standard for sports balls covers all hand-stitched, machine-stitched and thermo-bonded sports balls, although the great majority of Fairtrade sports balls are hand-stitched. This method offers the best balance between performance, persistence and affordability.

What Fairtrade Means for Sports Balls Stitchers

After researching the potential impact of Fairtrade in the Sialkot region, the Fairtrade Standards for Sports Balls were launched in 2002. There are now six Fairtrade certified sports balls producers. Fairtrade plays an important role in combating child labour by tackling the root of its cause; poverty and lack of income due to inadequate wages for adults.

On top of stable prices, Fairtrade certified organizations receive a Fairtrade Premium – additional funds to invest in social, environmental or economic development projects. The use of this Fairtrade Premium money is decided upon democratically by the workers and stitchers themselves according to their needs. Read more

General Sports Balls Facts

  • Pakistani workers produce around 70 percent of all hand-stitched sports balls.
  • Workers in China, India, Thailand and Vietnam also play a crucial role in the global sports ball industry.
  • In Sialkot, Pakistan 40,000 workers produce 40 million sports balls in a regular year, and 60 million during a football world championship year.
  • Typically, the cover of a football consists of 20 hexagon and 12 pentagon panels, made out of polyurethane (PU) or poly vinyl carbonate (PVC).
  • To attach these together, workers use 18 meters of synthetic yarn and 650 precise stitches. It takes around two to three hours to complete one hand-stitched football.
  • In 1997, the International Labour Organization, UNICEF and the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce signed the so-called Atlanta Agreement to end child labour in the sport balls industry. However, the issue remains a significant problem.

Where to Buy

Fairtrade certified sports balls can be found in many local markets. If you can’t find them, talk to you local retailer or get in touch with your local Fairtrade organization by checking out Fairtrade Near You or select one of the countries in blue on the map below. 


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