Onderstaand artikel is gepubliceerd in: Hindustan Times, 1-6-2002      

Child Labourers Kick Of Protest

New Delhi, Saturday, June 1, 2002

LITTLE SUNEET, 12, shows his fingers which were repeatedly jabbed with needles while he stitched footballs for the FIFA World Cup which opens today in Seoul with great pomp and show. When his finger is pierced with needle, he burns a matchstick and runs it over to stop the blood. The pain or oozing blood did not deter him because he has to stitch a minimum of two footballs for a paltry of Rs. 8 per ball. The price of one World Cup football is $91, according to FIFA.

About 200 children participated in a Global March Against Child Labour here. Eight children came from Meerut who stitch footballs. FIFA formulated a code of conduct barring child labour in the sports goods industry. Yet the ground realities are far too appalling with child labour still rampant in the absence of inspection and monitoring.

The kids want to study and don't like stitching footballs. For the basic education of these children $9 bn are needed. The stark reality is that $8 billion were spent to upgrade and build stadia in Korea and Japan for World Cup 2002. FIFA charges big amounts of license fees amounting up to $120 mn paid by Coca Cola for Japan 2002.

In India there are many registered and un-registered football-stitching units mainly in Batala, Jalandhar and Meerut. They also make other items such as hoes, gloves, and pads licensed by FIFA. Pakistan is the largest producer world-wide with some 3559 sports goods producers in Sialkot.

These children, unaware of their childhood being ruined, never kick a ball and score a goal. They are instruments who provide a few cheers to those in the ground and in front of the idiot box totally incognizant of their plight.





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