Sialkot, Pakistan, is the soccer ball capital of the world. Nestled in the northeast corner of Punjab province, this district of 3.5 million people has produced some 75 percent of the world’s hand-stitched soccer balls over the past decade. Each year, Sialkot manufacturers supply millions of soccer balls to multinational companies like Nike and Adidas.

But in the mid-1990s, media accounts revealed that children were stitching soccer balls in Sialkot. This news tarnished the reputations and...

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