FIFA and ILO team up on worldwide campaign to fight child labour

ZURICH (ILO News) - The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have agreed to wave a "Red Card to Child Labour", uniting the world of sport and the world of work in an unprecedented global campaign.

Press release | 13 February 2003

ZURICH (ILO News) - The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have agreed to wave a "Red Card to Child Labour", uniting the world of sport and the world of work in an unprecedented global campaign.

Under the banner of the ILO's existing "Red Card to Child Labour" campaign, the new alliance will seek to unite world football with the ILO and its tripartite partners and others in a common effort to increase global awareness about child labour and address its causes in the production of sporting goods and in other industries and sectors. Proposed participants will also include other international sports organizations, the sporting goods industry, relevant non-governmental organizations, charities, different international and civil society institutions, and other stakeholders.

The decision to move forward with a joint campaign was taken at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on 10 February by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and ILO Executive Director Kari Tapiola.

"This joint effort shows that FIFA is aware of its social responsibility it has, in particular to the youth", said Blatter.

Said the ILO's Tapiola: "Child labour is a massive problem, one that affects one out of every six children in the world today. Its elimination has been endorsed by the world community as one of the four key elements of the ILO's Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Knowing that the realization of this goal will require broad action on many fronts, we are delighted to have FIFA on our team in working to build international awareness and to create a world free of child labour."

FIFA and the ILO will work together to:

  • build and implement a common strategy to bring partner organizations into the campaign;
  • coordinate and reinforce action programmes aimed at eliminating child labour in sporting goods production and in other industries;
  • strengthen the visibility and impact of the ILO's "Red Card to Child Labour" campaign by promoting its adoption by football federations and teams worldwide, and
  • bring together all relevant stakeholders to help assess the impact of different initiatives with the overall goal of combatting the use of child labour in products or services in the world of sport, and to seek common ground for new initiatives.

Said FIFA's Blatter: "Our organization's previous experience with regard to child labour showed the need for a global initiative that is not restricted to the limited possibilities of a sports organisation which has neither the expertise nor the means to solve the problem on its own. By partnering with the ILO, we feel we will have the means to send out a joint message sensitizing broad sectors of society in both donor and recipient countries about the harm of child labour encouraging them to mobilize to combat it."

The ILO brings together governments, employers and workers of its 175 member States in common action to improve social protection and conditions of life and work throughout the world. The ILO has two fundamental international Conventions on child labour, the Minimum Age Convention (No. 138) adopted in 1973 which aims to abolish child labour, and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182) adopted in 1999 which calls for the immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour which include slavery and similar practices, forced recruitment for use in armed conflict, use in prostitution and pornography, any illicit activity, as well as work which is likely to harm the health, safety and morals of children.

National and regional programmes against child labour have flourished under the ILO International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), which began with six participating countries in 1992 with a single donor government and has expanded to include operations in 75 countries funded by 26 donors. In 2001, the ILO launched its first Time-Bound Programmes aimed at eliminating the worst forms of child labour in specific countries within 5 to 10 years. The first programmes are aimed at helping some 100,000 children in El Salvador, Nepal and Tanzania.

FIFA is one of the world's largest sporting organizations with 204 member associations and is committed by its Statutes not only to the positive promotion of football through development programmes, but also to supervising international competitions and to safeguarding the sport and its good image against abuse of its rules and regulations. And FIFA sees to it that the game is played to one unified set of rules, the Laws of the Game, all over the world.

Football's ever growing popularity, its enormous appeal especially to young people, its expanding economic, social and even political significance and, not least, its importance for the media have all combined to make the sport a vital common denominator for varied interest groups. This trend means that FIFA is also dealing with matters outside its immediate sporting sphere of activity.