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Onderstaand artikel is gepubliceerd in: The Hindu, 26-5-2002      

Child Labour Shadow Over World Cup


New Delhi, Sunday, May 26, 2002

With barely a week left for World Cup 2002 to begin in Korea and Japan, the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and the Global March Against Child Labour today protested against FIFA’s alleged failure to comply with norms prohibiting the use of child labour in the production of footballs and other goods used by soccer players.

"A game that is supposed to inspire the youth and entertain the world must not be played with footballs sewn with the sweat of innocent children, "Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of BBA and Global March has launched a ‘World Cup Campaign’ to draw people’s attention to the child labour problem in the sports goods industry.

The FIFA had adopted a code of conduct in 1998 prohibiting the use of child labour and requiring decent working conditions and wages for adult workers in all FIFA –licensed production. However, Mr. Satyarthi said all available evidence had pointed to routine violations by manufacturers.

"We are building pressure of FIFA and national football teams to make this championship the first international sporting event free of child labour and in compliance with fair labour standards," Mr. Satyarthi said. Their campaign aims at bringing the young and old from around the world on one ground to kick off the fight against child labour.

India and Pakistan are the largest football producers for the World Cup. Mr. Satyarthi pointed out that a recent report by the India Committee of the Netherlands and the All Pakistan Federation of Labour, indicated that thousands of children in the two countries were involved in the production of footballs. Moreover, workers in both India and Pakistan are earning wages much lower than the prescribed minimum wages and many basic labour rights are routinely neglected. Their life of exploitation was shared by another 24-core working children and their families across the world, Mr. Satyarthi said.

Most children are forced into labour to help their families earn enough money to survive. Hence, football becomes a home-based family work where a middleman acting on behalf of a sports goods manufacturer provides the football pieces for in-home production. According to Mr. Satyarthi, a normal working day does not often provide the workers with even minimum wages.

While helping their families, the children miss out on education, creating a vicious circle of poverty and uneducated labour. Mr. Satyarthi said his movement against child labour was born out of a foot march that commenced four years ago when thousands of people took a journey of over 80,000 km four continents to mobilise world action.

Though India and Pakistan are the focus of football manufacturing, the World Cup Campaign. Has seemingly succeeded in mobilising partners all over the world. Several star football players from various countries have expressed support by signing the declaration against child labour in sports goods industry.

Similarly, young volunteers in Japan would be organising an exhibition on child labour in Yokohama- the host city of the final match of FIFA World Cup – in assocation with the Tokyo office of International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the American Embassy.

Mr. Satyarthi pointed out that World Cup 2002 would be the first jointly hosted one in the history of the event. What makes it more unique is the fact that both host countries have had a history of conflict. "This showcases the ability of sports to bring the world together and its capacity to highlight the problem of child labour in the sports goods sector," he said.

The Global March chief pointed out that there were as many as 1,700 FIFA –licensed products for which child labourers were engaged in large numbers. Yet another irony, he said, was that while eight billion dollars were spent to upgrade and build stadiums in Korea and Japan for the forthcoming event, for just nine billion dollars all the children of the world could receive free basic education.



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