Oxfam cries foul over sportswear sweatshops ahead of World Cup

SYDNEY, May 24, 2006 (AFP) – Sportswear manufacturers received a red card from international charity Oxfam Wednesday for failing to stamp out sweatshops in Asia ahead of next month’s football World Cup. Oxfam said while sportswear companies paid millions in sponsorship to the footballers who will star at the tournament in Germany, the workers manufacturing their goods remained poorly paid and exploited.

In a report titled “Offside”, Oxfam said the workers, mainly women living in impoverished areas of Asian nations such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka, often faced intimidation or even assault if they demanded better conditions.

Oxfam produced a league table of 12 leading sportswear manufacturers based on their labor practices but said none met minimum requirements.

“They would all receive a red card if they were on the field,” report co-author Tim Connor told AFP.

“In fact, if there was a world cup for companies that respect labor rights, the sports brands would not even get through the qualifying rounds.”

Connor said the workers who made premium label sportswear retailing for top prices in High Street shops were often paid a basic wage of just 60 US cents a day.

He said such wages we