May 21 - A factory Pakistan is to make the official World Cup soccer balls after a Chinese company let Adidas down. As Hayley Platt reports it has just one month to do what normally takes six.
Landing the contract to make soccer balls for this year's Brazilian World Cup is a great feat for any business. But it was particularly satisfying for the owner of The Forward Sports company in Pakistan. Khawaja Akhtar had been trying to land a contract with Adidas for years. So when the Chinese factory which had been given the original contract couldn't cope, Khawaja jumped in. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OWNER OF FORWARD SPORTS COMPANY, KHAWAJA ASHRAF, SAYING: "This is the dream for anybody who is making balls anywhere in the world. This is the most prestigious ball which is played on many pitches of the world. So everybody loves to be a part of it." It hasn't been without its challenges though. A production line of this magnitude would normally take six months to set up. Akhtar was given just one. (SOUNDBITE) (English) KHAWAJA AKHTAR, OWNER OF FORWARD SPORTS COMPANY, SAYING: "We have to accept the challenge in the best way; we have to produce the best quality in the given time." Asia has long been used by Western firms to produce goods, because labour is cheap. It drives the economy but last April the world saw its dark side. Eleven hundred people were killed when a factory collapsed at Rana Plaza in Bangladash. The industry is notorious for its long working hours and dangerous conditions. Akhtar said conditions in his factory are good. His staff say they're proud to be making this year's world cup soccer balls. And they'll be watching the kick off on June 12 particularly closely.