5 December 2002
Mr. Joseph S. Blätter
Fax: 41-1 384 9696
Dear Mr. Joseph S. Blätter,
The Global March Against Child Labour is bringing to your attention again our concerns about labour rights violations and the ongoing use of child labour in sporting goods production around the world. We have been corresponding with you since May 2001 on this issue, however, we have yet to receive concrete answers providing evidence that FIFA is making the necessary efforts to implement its own Code of Labour Practice for FIFA licensed goods.
During the World Cup Campaign 2002, millions of supporters, including celebrity professional football players, international trade union networks, children and youth showed their support to make football a really fair game. The public, your audience of football matches, demanded that no child should be stitching footballs and adult workers should be treated fairly.
It has been amply demonstrated, through past and recent reports, that there needs to be an industry-wide, transparent labour monitoring and verification system for all products. Your efforts to combat child labour in Sialkot, Pakistan and in Punjab, India are praiseworthy and it has demonstrated some success. However, FIFA, as an international organisation promoting fairness in sports, cannot overlook the shortcomings of these programmes and the lack of monitoring of other labour standards which are part of FIFA's Code.
Therefore, your statement in a letter from FIFA to the Clean Clothes Campaign dated 16 April 2002, "We cannot be held responsible for the labour conditions in factories" is unacceptable coming from an organisation that, through its licensing system via FIFA Marketing AG, has large commercial interests in the production of sporting and other goods. In a communication from your former General-Secretary of 18 February 2002, we were in fact told that further correspondence with the Global March was not appreciated.
But instead of continuing to harp on the past, we would much rather like to look at the future obligations of working together to make a real difference. We propose that you soon convene a round-table discussion inviting all stakeholders to work towards ending labour rights violations and the use of child labour in the sporting goods industry, as has been suggested to FIFA in the past. The letter sent by UNICEF on 12 December 2001 to the Global March stated that "UNICEF is committed to sustaining dialogue with FIFA which began over two years ago, and will join all partners, including trade unions, NGOs and other UN agencies, particularly the ILO, to support the ongoing development of transparent monitoring mechanisms for manufactured goods around the world, including those associated with FIFA or its subsidiaries."
FIFA's partners, ILO and WFSGI, that have been instrumental in establishing the Sialkot and Punjab child labour projects, have already shown an interest in moving towards establishing such a labour monitoring system. We seek FIFA's clear commitment for this common venture.
It was communicated to us by the ICFTU that the global unions, a partner which you mentioned in your letter on 18 February 2002, also attach great importance to re-opening the dialogue with you on trade union related aspects of FIFA licensing as well as the larger issue of implementation, monitoring and verification implementation of your code of labour practice where also NGOs can play an important role.
We also have been informed that the first International Conference on Sport and Development will be held in Switzerland on 16-18 February 2003, where also the issue of sports and ethics and fair trade will be discussed.
Therefore, we would like to propose to you to have a Round Table involving FIFA, UNICEF, ILO, WFSGI, the Global March, Clean Clothes Campaign, and the Global Unions as soon as possible to discuss the role of FIFA and other participating organisations in moving towards the fair production of sporting goods and other FIFA-licensed goods.
We look forward to a positive reaction to this letter. We hope we will be able to productively work together on the eradication of child labour and the realisation of labour rights for all workers producing sporting goods and other FIFA-licensed products.