The greatest foul is not just at the World Cup

JOHN DEVARAJ writes from Bangalore: Exactly nine days from now, the greatest sporting spectacle of the world, the football World Cup, will begin in Germany.

The whole world awaits this day and the month-long soccer feast that will bring us all together for fun and enjoyment, and show us all our common dreams.

No matter what we are, who we are, what colour we are, we will all be children during the 'Cup. Which is as it should be.

But there is another, real, more horrific world of children: children who are working when they should be learning and kicking the ball. That dark world is called child labour: there are 246 million in the world and 127 million in India.

The World Cup is the biggest gathering of hearts and minds of peoples of the world and it is a gathering that must take cognisance of this cruel global slavery that exists amid us.

Show The Red Card to Child Labour is a campaign that was launched in Mali in Africa and went on to become a theme in the 2002 World Cup.

Parts of the football are still being stitched by the tiny hands of child labourers in India and Pakistan. FIFA has banned the use of these products made directly or indirectly by child labour. But everything else in this living world is directly or indirectly made by a child's hands. 

From the steel of the goal posts, to the cotton shorts, to the flowers that the players will receive and wear in the matches, to all that the spectators around the world will use to watch the grand spectacle.

It is something that will exist in the world even after the magic moments of the World Cup are long over and the victor has been crowned.  

It is therefore very important that child labour in all its forms has to be abolished from the face of the earth. This World Cup should further the campaign.

Stop the greatest foul against children in the world.


A football match will be played between former child labourers and adults on stilts at the Bornfree Art school on Vittal Mallya Road in Bangalore at 9.30 am on June 7. Please come if you are in Bangalore. If you are elsewhere around the world please send a support email to