No: 3

Autumn 2002

World Cup:
stitched up by children

The FIFA World Cup is an international sporting event which stirs the passion of millions of people around the world once every four years. However, in the shadows of this festivity, thousands of children are losing their precious childhood, stitching footballs that may be used for such sporting events. No chance to go to school or to play, they are denied the opportunity of growing up dreaming of a future without stitching. Instead, they work day and night stitching the dreams of others.

Footballs are normally hand-stitched. This is a hazardous job, especially for children. Most people develop health problems like chronic joint and back pains and deformed fingers. Apart from that, wages are incredibly low, not to mention children are deprived an education and a childhood.

Thousands of adults are also exploited as cheap labour to produce sporting goods used in official matches and merchandise sold in stores around the world and it is inevitable that their children are required to start working alongside them at an early age in order to support the family.

Exactly one year before the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and Korea commenced, the World Cup Campaign 2002 was kicked off with a 14-year-old former football stitcher from India, appealing to the world to help her friends be able to go to school and play instead of stitching footballs.

Human rights groups and the media have exposed the use of child labour in the sporting goods industry in the past.

Because of these efforts FIFA, the organising body of international football matches developed a set of regulations called the Code of Labour Practice.

This Code prohibits the use of child labour, bonded or forced, and promotes fair wages for adults. These regulations apply to all companies, large and small that are involved in the production of FIFA goods.

However, these regulations have been broken many times.

A report by the Pakistan labour union tells us that children are no longer working in factories but rather stitching at home. In the year 2000, The Netherlands Committee reported that child labour was used in the production of the official footballs used in the Euro 2000.

Global March's own activists also report the use of child labour in India and Pakistan despite denial from sporting goods industries.

The World Cup Campaign 2002 demands FIFA to make the World Cup and the sport of football, fair in its labour practice and free of child labour. Their promise to make all FIFA licensed products fair must be kept with a transparent monitoring system in place.

However, making football a fair game is not solely the responsibility of one organisation. All 250 million football players, two billion football fans, and the rest of the world must come together to bring out the best in the game!

Back to index page