Football manufacturing is a billion dollar industry heavily dominated by major global brands. Over the past 15 years there have been significant changes in the geographies of production with China consolidating its position as the number one football producer taking market share from Pakistan, the second largest producer. On the end market side, newly emerging markets have increased in importance but the EU and the USA have remained dominant. Over the past 15 years global football manufacturing has faced concerns on labour standards compliance and experienced distinct patterns of product and process upgrading. Using the analytical frameworks of global value chains and technological capabilities and learning, this study considers the challenges arising from technological upgrading and labour standards compliance within the global football industry and its implications for local producers.