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World Anti-Child Labour Day aims to highlight the need to end child labour on a global scale while promoting awareness  on the negative aspects of child labour for the entire society. This year the Day coincides with the World Cup soccer tournament underway.

Go for the Goal: End Child Labour 2010. Image Source: http://www.ilo.org

Soccer is a beautiful game. Through all the multi-million dollar extravaganza associated with the World Cup frenzy, comes the irrefutable concern over the issue of child labour in the manufacture of the soccer balls. The International Labor Rights Forum, an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide  recently released a report on the reality of soccer ball stitchers in Pakistan, India, China and Thailand – the four largest producers of hand-stitched soccer balls used during the world cup.

Highlights of the report pertaining to India:

Child stitching soccer ball in India. Image source: http://www.laborrights.org

  • Soccer balls are mainly(75 to 80%)  manufactured in Jalandhar and Meerut .
  • In stitching centres, drinking water facilities are absent. Some of them, do not have toilets.
  • Needle piercings, muscular pains, and loss of eye sight are common.

The Sports Goods Federation of India (SGFI) , an NGO was created by 25 exporters of sports goods in India with the objectives of eliminating child labour in the stitching of soccer balls, facilitating an attitudinal change in the community regarding importance of education, and promoting education among the soccer-stitching communities.

As a country, we have a long way to go before reaching the ‘goal post’, let alone the ‘goal’ of eradicating child labour.