FIFA and Child Labour

Zürich, 24 September 2002 - Child labour is a complex socio-political phenomenon and as such, it is extremely difficult to combat. As a sporting organisation, FIFA has neither the experience nor the means to eradicate this wide-reaching problem on its own.

FIFA is fully aware of fair employment issues and pays special attention to them, particularly that of child labour. FIFA continually imposes strict contractual obligations on its partners in this respect and collaborates closely with official organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Furthermore, FIFA’s relationship with the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) ensures that world football’s governing body is associated with WFSGI programmes to prevent child labour, especially in India and Pakistan.

However, FIFA cannot dictate to the official organisations in charge of labour protection. Recent cases have also revealed that FIFA trademarks have often been unlawfully used on unofficial products (footballs) manufactured in strict violation of established Labour Laws. Such activities are evidently not under FIFA’s control.

FIFA has a worldwide rights protection programme to try to eradicate the illegal trade in counterfeit products and the unauthorised use of trademarks and quality labels. By working in close cooperation with national authorities (police, customs, public prosecutor’s offices), 810 separate cases of violations in relation to the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ were discovered in no fewer than 56 countries around the world.

The FIFA rights protection programme was expanded for the 2002 FIFA World Cup™, and as a result, the number of confiscated footballs in comparison to France 98™ rose by nearly 500%.

Each year, approximately 40 million footballs are sold around the world. However in 2001, only 1.6 million of these balls carried one of the official FIFA quality labels. In other words, FIFA’s contractual agreements with manufacturers regarding the production of footballs cover merely 4% of annual sales.

· Under the Quality Concept, manufacturers must submit footballs to a stringent test programme to qualify for a FIFA hallmark - either the “FIFA Inspected” or the higher “FIFA Approved” standard. The principal purpose of these hallmarks is to denote high quality and consistency. But they are also the indication of footballs made without child labour, as all manufacturers granted a licence to bear a FIFA quality label are contractually obliged to reject all child labour.

· Currently, approximately 75% of the world’s hand-stitched footballs are made in Sialkot, Pakistan. A much smaller proportion is also made in India. In 1997, FIFA signed an international agreement aimed at preventing child exploitation. This agreement was also signed by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ILO and UNICEF. Representatives of WFSGI and other child welfare organisations also attended the signing ceremony in Atlanta.

· The Atlanta agreement outlined three objectives:

1. To assist manufacturers seeking to prevent children under the age of 14 from participating in the manufacture or assembly of footballs in the Sialkot District and its environs.

2. To identify and remove children from conditions of child labour in the manufacture or assembly of footballs and to provide them with education or other opportunities.

3. To facilitate changes in community and family attitudes on the acceptability of child labour in the industry.

· Two initiatives have been put in place to realise these goals:

1. UNICEF and the International Labour Organisation, the bodies most associated with the worldwide prevention of child labour, control the Prevention and Monitoring Programme, which seeks the co-operation of manufacturers.

2. The Social Protection Programme, which works to ensure the abolition of child labour in the football industry, does not create any new dangers for the affected children and their families.

· FIFA has made substantial donations to support these child labour initiatives, namely by funding social and educational programmes in Pakistan and India via UNICEF and the International Labour Organisation. Since 1997 FIFA has donated a total of USD 1,100,000 to such initiatives.

· The ultimate aim of all parties is to eliminate child labour in the manufacture of footballs but, at the same time, to ensure that adults have the opportunity to work in suitable conditions for fair pay, and that children have the right to an education. This is not a quick process, especially in certain regions of the world.

· To help eliminate child labour, sewing centres have now been set up in many larger villages, where the minimum legal age of workers (14) is strictly enforced. Women also have their own sewing centres, so that they too can contribute to the family income.

· Any licensee manufacturer who wishes to apply for a FIFA hallmark must sign a contract that precludes the use of child labour and obliges cooperation with suppliers whose workers are employed at sewing centres. Inspectors employed by the International Labour Organisation monitor these centres on a regular basis.


Enquiries to be addressed to:
FIFA Media Office
Tel: +41-1/254 9800
Fax: +41-1/384 9696

FIFA Communications Division
Zürich, 24 September 2002