COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Child labour campaign links to World Cup 2002

KIRSTEN DOWNER

An international campaign will highlight the plight of child labourers involved in making footballs and sportsgear, to coincide with World Cup 2002.

Thousands of children around the world are still working for paltry wages, despite attempts to end the practice, claims World Cup Campaign 2002.

The drive involves charities, trade unions and pressure groups from four continents. Argentina's national football team is also supporting the activity.

A series of rallies and marches in Korea and Japan will urge football fans to help "Kick child labour out of the world".

Mass media from 32 countries will focus on the month-long World Cup event, presenting an unprecedented opportunity to bring the issue of child labour to millions of people, said campaign co-ordinator Leopoldo Esteban.

"People may find the child labour problem complicated to understand. But the World Cup campaign presents them with something that relates to them. It's very symbolic - thousands of children are losing their childhoods making toys and footballs for children in rich countries,

he said.

Football body FIFA has regulations prohibiting the use of child labour by firms producing FIFA goods, but these have been broken many times, say campaigners.

People can download campaign material and sign a global petition at the campaign's web site, www.globalmarch.org.

The campaign is being co-ordinated from an office in New Delhi, India, funded by an annual £70,000 Christian Aid grant. "The football campaign is part of a much wider drive to stamp out child labour. It's a great way to draw attention to this issue, which too often is overlooked,

said Leo Bashyam, head of the Asia team at Christian Aid.

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