How the World Cup balls are made in Pakistan

Yahoo Sports

When Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar heard last autumn that Adidas' Chinese supplier for the World Cup couldn't keep up with demand, he immediately invited executives to his plant in Sialkot, a wealthy Pakistani manufacturing town with a long history of leatherwork.

"They said 'You have Stone Age equipment," said his oldest son, Hassan Masood Khawaja, laughing. "After they left, my father called a meeting and said: 'This is our only chance. If we show them we can't do it, we'll never get another chance again.'"

It usually takes six months to set up a production line, but the factory only had a month - Adidas, the German sports equipment maker, was in a hurry. So Khawaja designed, made and moved the equipment into place within 33 days. Everything had to be done from scratch.
— Reuters

An employee adjusts outer panels on a soccer ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
An employee adjusts outer panels on a soccer ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
An employee adjusts outer panels on a soccer ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
Employees conduct a final check to fix any cavities in the seams of balls inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
Employees conduct a final check on balls inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
Employees conduct a final check to fix any cavities in the seams of balls inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
An employee adjusts outer panels of a soccer ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen.Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
An employee adjusts outer panels of a soccer ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
An employee adjusts outer panels of a soccer ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen.Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
An employee conducts the final check to fix any cavity in the seams of a ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
An employee conducts the final check on a ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
An employee conducts the final check to fix any cavity in the seams of a ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
Employees work in the production area inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
Employees work in the production area inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
Employees work in the production area inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
An employee checks the shape of a ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
An employee checks the shape of a ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
An employee checks the shape of a ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
Employees conduct a final check to fix any cavities in the seams of balls inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
Employees conduct a final check on balls inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
Employees conduct a final check to fix any cavities in the seams of balls inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
An employee conducts a final check to fix any cavity in the seams of a ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
An employee conducts a final check on a ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
An employee conducts a final check to fix any cavity in the seams of a ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
Employees work near official 2014 World Cup balls at the final stage of their quality check inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
Employees work near official 2014 World Cup balls inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
Employees work near official 2014 World Cup balls at the final stage of their quality check inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN \ - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
An employee collects ball panels from a machine that applies adhesive at the edges inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
An employee collects ball panels from a machine inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
An employee collects ball panels from a machine that applies adhesive at the edges inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
An employee uses hot air as she sticks outer panels on a soccer ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT WORLD CUP)
An employee uses hot air as she sticks outer panels on a soccer ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
An employee uses hot air as she sticks outer panels on a soccer ball inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT WORLD CUP)
An employee takes finished balls out of the production area inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
An employee takes finished balls out of the production area inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province
An employee takes finished balls out of the production area inside the soccer ball factory that produces official match balls for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in Sialkot, Punjab province May 16, 2014. It was when he felt the roar of the crowd at the 2006 World Cup in Germany that Pakistani factory owner Khawaja Akhtar first dreamt up a goal of his own: to manufacture the ball for the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. Last year he finally got his chance - but only 33 days to make it happen. Picture taken May 16. REUTERS/Sara Farid (PAKISTAN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
The adidas logo is printed on "Brazuca", the official FIFA World Cup 2014 soccer ball, during the annual shareholders meeting in Fuerth, Germany, Thursday, May 8, 2014. In the first quarter of 2014, Group revenues remained stable on a currency-neutral basis. Currency translation effects had a significant negative impact on sales in euro terms. Group revenues decreased 6% to euro 3.533 billion in the first quarter of 2014 from euro 3.751 billion in 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
The adidas logo is printed on "Brazuca", the official FIFA World Cup 2014 soccer ball, during the annual shareholders meeting in Fuerth, Germany, Thursday, May 8, 2014. In the first quarter of 2014, Group revenues remained stable on a currency-neutral basis. Currency translation effects had a significant negative impact on sales in euro terms. Group revenues decreased 6% to euro 3.533 billion in the first quarter of 2014 from euro 3.751 billion in 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
The adidas logo is printed on "Brazuca", the official FIFA World Cup 2014 soccer ball, during the annual shareholders meeting in Fuerth, Germany, Thursday, May 8, 2014. In the first quarter of 2014, Group revenues remained stable on a currency-neutral basis. Currency translation effects had a significant negative impact on sales in euro terms. Group revenues decreased 6% to euro 3.533 billion in the first quarter of 2014 from euro 3.751 billion in 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
The adidas logo is printed on a FIFA World Cup soccer ball during the annual shareholders meeting in Fuerth, Germany, Thursday, May 8, 2014. In the first quarter of 2014, Group revenues remained stable on a currency-neutral basis. Currency translation effects had a significant negative impact on sales in euro terms. Group revenues decreased 6% to euro 3.533 billion in the first quarter of 2014 from euro 3.751 billion in 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
The adidas logo is printed on a FIFA World Cup soccer ball during the annual shareholders meeting in Fuerth, Germany, Thursday, May 8, 2014. In the first quarter of 2014, Group revenues remained stable on a currency-neutral basis. Currency translation effects had a significant negative impact on sales in euro terms. Group revenues decreased 6% to euro 3.533 billion in the first quarter of 2014 from euro 3.751 billion in 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
The adidas logo is printed on a FIFA World Cup soccer ball during the annual shareholders meeting in Fuerth, Germany, Thursday, May 8, 2014. In the first quarter of 2014, Group revenues remained stable on a currency-neutral basis. Currency translation effects had a significant negative impact on sales in euro terms. Group revenues decreased 6% to euro 3.533 billion in the first quarter of 2014 from euro 3.751 billion in 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
The adidas logo is printed on "Brazuca", the official FIFA World Cup 2014 soccer ball, during the annual shareholders meeting in Fuerth, Germany, Thursday, May 8, 2014. In the first quarter of 2014, Group revenues remained stable on a currency-neutral basis. Currency translation effects had a significant negative impact on sales in euro terms. Group revenues decreased 6% to euro 3.533 billion in the first quarter of 2014 from euro 3.751 billion in 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
The adidas logo is printed on "Brazuca", the official FIFA World Cup 2014 soccer ball, during the annual shareholders meeting in Fuerth, Germany, Thursday, May 8, 2014. In the first quarter of 2014, Group revenues remained stable on a currency-neutral basis. Currency translation effects had a significant negative impact on sales in euro terms. Group revenues decreased 6% to euro 3.533 billion in the first quarter of 2014 from euro 3.751 billion in 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
The adidas logo is printed on "Brazuca", the official FIFA World Cup 2014 soccer ball, during the annual shareholders meeting in Fuerth, Germany, Thursday, May 8, 2014. In the first quarter of 2014, Group revenues remained stable on a currency-neutral basis. Currency translation effects had a significant negative impact on sales in euro terms. Group revenues decreased 6% to euro 3.533 billion in the first quarter of 2014 from euro 3.751 billion in 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

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