Onderstaand artikel is gepubliceerd in: The Hindu, 24-5-2002      

The Dark Side of Football

New Delhi, May 24, 2002

Here is something you would rather not like to know about football. Exposing the ‘dark side of football’, the Global March Against Child Labour (GMACL), a non-governmental organisation active in the area, today presented its reports on the prevailing conditions in India, Pakistan and China.

It claims that despite all efforts by UNICEF and rules framed by the International Labour Organisation, child labour and unfair, labour conditions for the adult stitcher in the industry is still rampant. In a survey conducted in Jalandhar and Batala areas they discovered that the conditions under which children engaged in football stitching work do not respect the FIFA agreement with sporting goods companies.

According to the study, at least 10,000 children care engaged in the football industry in Punjab, where labour standards continue to be violated blatantly.

The report also points out that wages given to labourers here are far below half the official minimum stipulated, while the health, safety and sanitary provisions are grossly inadequate. Workers are also totally dependent on contractors and have no right to organise themselves or bargain collectively:

The GMACL has accused the FIFA of not taking adequate initiative in the matter and despite the report on the prevailing conditions being presented to them last year, it is "yet to carry out any follow-up on the same."

"The year of the World Cup-2202, dedicated to children, affirms the continuance of child labour and generally poor labour conditions in the sporting goods industry," claims Philippe Roy, a GMACL volunteer, who has also reported on the conditions prevailing in Pakistan.

"Children there were found stitching Coco-Cola and Adidas footballs, both major sponsors of the FIFA 2002 World Cup. The orders come randomly to villages and the middleman who runs the show almost always manages to evade the monitoring system," explains Roy.

"We hope that this year's World cup, already dedicated to children in a joint effort by UNICEF and FIFA, will present an opportunity for civil society groups, trade unions, Governments, international organisations and the sporting goods industry to work together in establishing a reliable and transparent monitoring system on labour conditions," said the GMACL chairperson, Kailash Satyarthi.

Also, the India Committee of the Netherlands, partner of the March 2002 World Cup campaign, will publish a report on the Indian football industry in a follow-up to the previous report in 2000.

The summary of the report presented today showed that many children are still working in and around the cities of Jalandhar and Batala in Punjab. While wages are low, women earn Rs.4 or 5 less than men, per ball stitched.

The report also criticises the present FIFA –sponsored monitoring system implemented by the Sports Goods Foundation of India, which includes 32 exporters. It claims: "monitoring only focuses on child labour and not other labour rights, it has many loopholes, including the fact that it has yet to cover a large part of the production of its own member companies".





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