IEH - Ethical Trading Initiative Norway

Missed the Goal for Workers: The Reality of Soccer Ball Stitchers in Pakistan, India, China and Thailand

Monthly salaries down to kr 330,- even less for women, working days of over 20 hours, lack of contracts and child labor, according to International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) is the everyday life for fotballsewers in China, Pakistan and India.

International Labor Rights ForuM

In 1997, the news that Pakistani children sewing soccer balls for less than fifty cents an hour shocked the whole world. Companies in the sports industry, governments and other interested parties agreed to the so-called Atlanta Agreement as a result of these news. It aims among other things to eliminate child labor in football manufacturing.

13 years later the American organization, the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) warned that shockingly little had changed.

- Even after all these years, low wages and dangerous working conditions in the industry has hardly been addressed, says chief executive officer of ILRF, Bama Athreya.

- Now is the time for customers, factories and industry organizations such as FIFA to take responsibility for repeated violations of labor rights in the production of footballs, he said.


Among the recommendations the report highlights is the suppliers' side to enter into formal working agreements with factory workers, and introduce policies where a living wage is incorporated. All work with trade unions and NGOs are to conduct internal audits and report publicly. Guidelines from the buyer should also be introduced and must include a clause on an acceptable living wage and a health and safety standards. It should be ensured that such standards meet the requirements laid down in ILO conventions.