31 mei / May 31, 2001


Representing 250 million children suffering their childhood in hard years of labour, Sonia, a 15-year-old former child labourer from India will be kicking off the World Cup Campaign 2002 - Kick Child Labour Out of the World, in Tokyo, Japan. Counting down to the grand opening ceremony of the Football World Cup 2002 to be hosted in Korea and Japan, the Global March Against Child Labour will join up with NGOs, trade unions, children and all concerned people to make the next year's biggest international sporting event another step forward in the fight against child labour.

Sonia has traveled to Japan to plead for the worldwide efforts to end the economic exploitation of children. She lost her eyesight when she was 7 years old but learned football stitching by touch alone. She used to earn 7 rupees (US $0.15) for each of two balls she stitched each day, until she was rescued at the age of 11 by Volunteers for Social Justice (VSJ), an NGO in Punjab, India, and one of the 2000 Global March partners in over 140 countries. The World Cup Campaign 2002 aims to raise awareness on child labour at large by highlighting the case of the sporting goods industry, especially football stitching. The Campaign calls for FIFA to implement the no child labour policy that they have promised in their Code of Labour Practice.

Child labour in football stitching is still very much prevalent today, especially in Pakistan and India, and likely in China. FIFA, the organising body of the World Cup has agreed to a Code of Labour Practice back in 1998 with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). The Code prohibits the use of forced, bonded, and child labour in any production line of FIFA licensed footballs, and promises fair wages and decent working conditions. However the implementation of this Code is questionable.

The Dark Side of Football, a report released last year looking into child labour in football stitching, indicates that there are still more than 10,000 children involved in the industry in Punjab, India alone. Recent studies by Save the Children Fund-UK suggest that there may be more than 15,000 children stitching footballs in Pakistan.

Besides the well documented cases in India and Pakistan, the Global March has serious concerns about the suspected use of child labour and unfair working conditions in sporting goods production in China. China has just become a member of the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry, FIFA's global industry partner. In an Open Letter sent to Zen-Ruffinen, the General Secretary of FIFA, the Global March calls for their commitment to make the World Cup 2002 a truly fair game.

"Sports are based on the principle of fair play, but this principle is not always honoured", says Gerard Oonk, the Policy Advisor of the World Cup Campaign, who has been working on the issue of fair working conditions in football stitching for years as the Executive Director of the India Committee of the Netherlands.

Many of the Global March partners have been involved in this issue both with producers and working children themselves in the South and with importers and consumers in the North. Now is the time to energise the efforts already taking place to eliminate child labour and to unite all who believe that fair play must be practised not only on the football ground but also on the production line.
At the Tokyo Launch of the Campaign, Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of the Global March Against Child Labour, calls for all sectors of the society from to join forces in the struggle to bring child labour to an end. "We believe that we can finally make the world free of child labour if we work together with determination and commitment", he stated.

The Football World Cup in 2002 is the first jointly hosted one in the history of the event. It emphasises the importance of sports as a bridge to bring the world together. During its 80,000 km foot-march across 5 continents, the Global March has seen the power of the collective voices of people. The World Cup Campaign 2002 will bring young and old from around the world on one ground to kick off the fight against child labour.

Let's kick child labour out of the world!

For more information, please contact:

Gerard Oonk
India Committee of the Netherlands (Landelijke India Werkgroep)
Mariaplaats 4
3511 LH Utrecht
The Netherlands
tel.: 030-2321340
fax: 030-2322246
e-mail: info@indianet.nl


Toko Tomita
Campaigns Coordinator
Global March Against Child Labour
L-6 Kalkaji, New Delhi 110 019, India
tel.: (91 11) 622 4899
fax: (91 11) 623 8919
e-mail: childhood@globalmarch.org, yatra@del2.vsnl.net.in, worldcupcampaign2002@hotmail.com
Website: www.globalmarch.org

Landelijke India Werkgroep - 31 mei 2001
India Committee of the Netherlands - May 31, 2001