Foulball: Human Rights violated in the name of soccer, reports ILRF

With the world cup just around the corner, the new report  “Missed the Goal for Workers: the Reality of Soccer Ball Stitchers,” from the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) is citing massive violations in the rights for workers making soccer balls in the worlds four largest soccer ball making countries: Pakistan, India, China and Thailand.

According to the report, violations include:

  • child labour still exists in the Pakistani industry especially within home-based work.
  • gender discrimination of female home-based workers, being paid the least and facing the constant thread of losing their jobs due to pregnancy;
  • overtime working hours as in one Chinese factory, where workers were found to work up to 21 hours a day every day for an entire month;
  • the lack of proper drinking water or medical care facilities, and even toilets, as found in Indian stitching centres.

                                                                                                                         (Source: CCC)

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) support the ILRF in their call for action from the soccer ball industry. Click here to send a letter to FIFA and show your support.

For the sake of transparency I must admit that I am not, nor have I ever been, partial to soccer. For reasons unbeknownst to me I have never enjoyed watching or even participating in the game. Despite this fact, I have held a great deal of respect for the spirit of the sport in its ability to bring people together in seemingly magical ways.

Therefore, it is curious to find a disconnect between respect for the game and respect for the workers along the supply chain, manufacturing and producing the equipment used to facilitate not only the sport itself, but the joy and peace it brings to so many people (especially children) around the world, as a result.

The world cup anthem this year, K’naan’s “Waving Flag”, is a song about poverty, survival and freedom. Here is an excerpt (see video below for an acoustic performance):

So we struggling, fighting to eat and

We wondering when we’ll be free

So we patiently wait, for that fateful day

It’s not far away, so for now we say

When I get older, I will be stronger

They’ll call me freedom, just like a Waving Flag

And then it goes back, and then it goes back

And then it goes back

The irony here is hardly palatable.  

Until we can connect and associate ourselves with the supply chain as individuals, and not merely as the end user, we will be moving in the wrong direction.   

Mary has a PhD in Sociology from University of Edinburgh, researching responsible fashion and transnational labour rights activism in the wake of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh.

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3 thoughts on “Foulball: Human Rights violated in the name of soccer, reports ILRF

  1. Thomas Jones

    Sorry to bother you chaps, but I was wandering if I could use your photo in this article(girl_stitching_football) for a school project I am currently part taking in. The site will not be published publicly. The project I am part taking in requires me to raise awareness for fairtrade/fairdeal products and one of these products are footballs. This photo would be a great addition to my project as it highlights the growing problem within the child labour sector. I do hope you can give me permission to use this photo. Many thanks Thomas Jones Age 9 From Pontyclun.

  2. Pingback: Next up…A Living Wage! | Social Alterations

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