South Africa is the center of world this week, kicking off the

first-ever World Cup Games on the African continent. But as the cameras

pan across green fields and lavish festivities, labor activists are

keeping their eye on the ball.

According to a report on soccer ball manufacturing from the

International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), more than a decade since the

sporting goods industry was scandalized over rampant child labor abuses,

the exploitation continues. In Pakistan, India, China and Thailand,

ILRF says, “precarious labor, low wages, poor working conditions and

violations of freedom of association and collective bargaining rights

are found in the value chain of hand-stitched soccer balls.”

As degraded child workers in Asia supply the games played by other

youth around the world, FIFA promotes a platform of “corporate social


Since the late 1990s, following international condemnation of labor abuses in


FIFA has established a Social

Responsibility code, “pledged its commitment

to fight child labour

and has been supporting the International Labour

Organization (ILO) and

its International Programme for the Elimination

of Child Labour (IPEC)

in its efforts towards eradicating child labour

from the soccer ball

industry in Pakistan.”