Foulball Campaign

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In one of the largest sporting industries in the world, it is shocking to learn that child labor is at the base of the supply chain. Even in the 21st century, children are still a source of labor in the soccer ball (or football as they say in the rest of the world) industry.  On June 7, 2010, ILRF released a ground breaking report highlighting labor rights violations in the soccer ball industry in Pakistan, India, China and Thailand.


In 1996, the International Labor Rights Forum and allies called attention to rampant child labor in the soccer ball industry in Sialkot, Pakistan. According to investigations, thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 14 were putting in as many as 10 to 11 hours per day stitching. Prolonged stitching could cause damage to finger joints and back pain. Many of the children were working in bondage to their employers to pay off their parents’ debts.

Learn more about child labor in Pakistan

Unfortunately, child labor still exists today since children are so easily exploited and have no power to organize on their own. In 2008, together with partners in India, ILRF has identified the use of child labor again in the soccer ball industry. Children that should be in elementary school instead are forced to work all day long to pay off the loans owed by the parents. Deprived of a childhood and decent education, children as young as 6 may work 10-15 hour days for pennies per day or no pay at all! This vicious cycle of debt bondage prevents children from the many opportunities before them.

Learn more about child labor in India

The soccer ball industry committed in 1997 that it would end the use of child labor through the Partners' Agreement to Eliminate Child Labor in the Soccer Industry. ILRF is outraged at this recent discovery and expects full cooperation with the entire soccer ball industry in the eradication of child labor. This time ILRF wants more than a commitment on paper.

ILRF demands that the soccer ball industry commit to the following and develop clear action plans with specific deadlines for meeting these goals:

  • fair pricing for suppliers so that the suppliers have the financial resources to hire adults
  • complete transparency throughout the supply chain
  • independent monitoring as a part of its compliance program with specific attention to communication with labor allied NGO’s and labor unions in the soccer ball producing regions.