Millions of football fans will get an important message about child labour when they tune into tonight’s crucial 2004 Asian Cup match in Beijing.
The “Red Card to Child Labour” campaign will use a half-time display during the China v Iran semi-final to get over the message that child labour is unacceptable.
22 children, aged 8 to 10, will take to the pitch at half-time, wearing the campaign’s special “Red Card” T-shirts and flashing red cards. The girls and boys taking part are all talented soccer players who’ve been selected to attend Beijing’s football academy, making them the potential soccer stars of tomorrow.
A 30-second campaign video will be shown during the children’s display and information and campaign materials on child labour will be handed out.
The 2004 Asian Cup is the first time that the “Red Card to Child Labour” campaign has been used in Asia and China . The campaign was officially launched in 2002 during the African Cup of Nations, in Mali and since then has been seen by more than 400 million people. It was featured during the 100th Anniversary of the Real Madrid (International Football Day, December 2002), the Under-20’s South American Cup (January 2003) and the 2003 Women’s World Cup (USA).
In February 2003, the international football federation, FIFA and the ILO officially decided to combine their strengths to promote the campaign further – creating a unique alliance between sport and work.
Tonight’s display is the result of co-operation between the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), FIFA, the Asian Football Confederation, the Chinese Football Association and the Local Organizing Committee.
The Red Card display will return to the 65,000 seat Beijing Workers’ Stadium on Friday 6th August, for the semi-final play-off. China’s players have already shown their support for the campaign, by wearing Red Card shirts and being photographed with the red cards at their training session.
There are estimated to be more than 130 million child workers in the Asian and Pacific regions. 19 per cent of children in the region work. The Red Card campaign is a uniquely effective way of raising awareness of this complex and pernicious problem. Through football, the campaign reaches out to all types of people – including those beyond the reach of traditional lobbying methods - regardless of their age, sex, education, or social background.
For more information please visit /public/english/bureau/inf/pr/2003/4.htm
 UNICEF figures