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"EYE TO EYE" EXAMINES SOCCER COMPANIES AND CHILD LABOR

     On CBS's "Eye to Eye" last night, the feature "Children at
Work" reported on the violation of child labor laws in Pakistan.
One of the most flagrant violations is in the production of
soccer balls sold in the United States.  CBS' Roberta Baskin
reported that about "half the soccer balls in America are made in
Pakistan."  The leather is made in the big cities of Pakistan,
but "the handicraft, the world famous stitching is not done here.
It is done in the surrounding villages and much of that work is
done by the children of Pakistan."  Sublime ships balls to the
U.S. to adidas and Reebok, and the president of Sublime, one of
the largest soccer ball manufacturers in Pakistan, told CBS they
have "not allowed" young children to do the stitching on their
soccer balls.  At the adidas America headquarters in Portland,
OR, CBS spoke to Tom Kain, who manages the U.S. Soccer Division
and said "he didn't believe" that children were used to produce
the balls.  CBS then showed Kain videotape of the young children
stitching adidas balls.  Kain:  "I'm surprised, and concerned,
and I guarantee that the adidas company is not going to sit still
and accept this.  If that situation is improper or not helpful to
those children we will take a look at it."  Reebok responded in a
written statement that "both child labor and bonded labor violate
their human rights policy, and that it has taken immediate action
to cease business with the Sublime factory pending its own
investigation" ("Eye to Eye," CBS, 4/6).
     PRE-SPONSE:  The Soccer Industry Council of America released
a statement prior to the airing of the show accusing CBS of a
"sensationalists approach."  Their response:  1) Neither SICA nor
any member companies were aware such a problem existed;  2) CBS
did not inform SICA or its member companies when the
investigation began in February.  When Reebok was informed on
March 23, they  immediately suspended their relationship with
their Pakistani supplier;  3) SICA is in the process of
developing guidelines covering the supplier relationship;  4)
Both adidas and Reebok are concerned about unfair labor practices
and are committed to investigate the situations raised in the
report.  Neither company tried to hide anything (SICA).
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Related Topics:

CBS, Reebok, Viacom, Washington Nationals

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