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Response to the Global March Against Child Labour Report on Football stitching in Pakistan

Herzogenaurach, 28 May 2002 - Allegations have been raised by the Global March Against Child Labour Campaign relating to children stitching footballs in Pakistan.

adidas-Salomon is able to state, categorically, that official adidas footballs have not been stitched by underage workers, as has been alleged by the Global March Campaign. Based on our investigations we can confirm that the footballs pictured in the report by the Global March Campaign are counterfeit products. The claims made by the Global March Campaign are based on superficial investigations and are without foundation.

The report issued by the Global March has other factual inaccuracies. For instance, none of the footballs made in Pakistan are or have been used in the World Cup tournaments in 1998 or 2002. All of the balls used in the World Cup games are made in Germany and Morocco. Only World Cup replica balls are manufactured in Pakistan for sale internationally.

The production of adidas footballs in Pakistan is monitored by a dedicated operations team based in Sialkot, which checks compliance against our Standards of Engagement - our code of conduct. Our Standards of Engagement prohibit the use of child labour in the manufacture of our products, and the enforcement of this is taken very seriously.

How does adidas-Salomon specifically safeguard against the use of child labour in Pakistan?

Firstly, we limit the number of suppliers, and the stitching centres that they may use. All production facilities are audited against our labour and health and safety standards for general compliance, before they are approved for use. In addition to this, each stitching centre must register with the International Labour Organisation's IPEC monitoring programme. The multi-tiered system we have in place, means that the age documentation of workers in the stitching centres are checked regularly by our suppliers, by our own local staff, and by the independent monitors from the ILO. The integrity and effectiveness of this system is proven: in the five years that the ILO have been monitoring our suppliers, they have never once recorded a case of child labour.

Because of our stringent requirements, adidas-Salomon currently has only four approved manufacturing partners in Pakistan. All are located in Sialkot. Each of these suppliers manufacture ball components (panels and bladders) which are delivered to the registered stitching centres, where footballs are assembled. In some cases these stitching centres are located within the grounds of the main factory, or in areas near to the factory. The completed balls are returned to the factory for quality testing and then are cleaned, packed and shipped.

To prevent adidas product being made in other unregistered locations, we have also instituted a product tracking system. The system matches the ball components with the output, delivery records and the pay slips of workers from each stitching centre. These records are checked regularly by local adidas-Salomon staff.

To combat child labour and bring about long term and lasting change, the football stitching industry in Sialkot has required more than preventative measures in the form of independent external monitoring. The monitoring body formed by the ILO, UNICEF and Save the Children, has sought to address the root causes of the problem, and has partnered with a range of local organisations and industry, to raise awareness and provide social protection and education for local children. adidas-Salomon has contributed to this through the direct funding of an education programme run by Sudhaar, a local non-government organisation. Sudhaar has focused its efforts on improving the quality of education in schools located in those villages where there is a high concentration of football stitching families. The education programme, which was launched in February 1998 in partnership with Save the Children-UK, is ongoing.

In summary, the Global March Campaign report fails to present a balanced picture of the progress which has been made in the elimination of child labour from the football stitching industry in Sialkot. Moreover, it draws false and malevolent conclusions, based on the evidence of footballs stitched by counterfeiters in villages 250 miles away from the locations where adidas sources its product.