Nike, Reebok and several other sporting goods giants announced a campaign Friday to stop the production of soccer balls by Pakistani children who work 10 hours a day stitching them together for pennies.
Some of these same sporting goods companies have themselves been criticized over conditions of foreign workers who produce their celebrity-endorsed shoes and apparel.
The World Federation of the Sports Goods Industry and the American-based Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association pledged that major ball makers will buy soccer balls produced in Pakistan only if they are not made by children.
The project aims to phase in the reforms over 18 months and enforce them by independent monitors. It also hopes to provide educational services to youngsters who are thrown out of work.
Seventy-five percent of the world’s $1 billion soccer ball industry is in Pakistan.
Child welfare organizations estimate that 7,000 to 10,000 Pakistani children under 14 stitch balls in homes and small shops, receiving little pay for working up to 10 hours a day.