fancy a world cuppa?

So the bi-annual orgy of football-related marketing is with us once again. Becks, Lamps, Rooney et al will all be starring in a feast of slick new jingoistic advertising and merchandising (which happily can be completed without regard to injuries). Taking place at the same time is the FIFA World Cup, this
time to be held at adidas and Puma HQ - otherwise known as Germany.

A few billion will be glued to their television sets for a month - including many England fans in £40 replica kits made by Chinese workers on 40p a day - thrilling at the cheating, overpaid primadonna-wannabe-Maradonas. Their 'heroics' will provide the hook for heroic marketing campaigns from sponsors
like Coke, Gillette, McDonald's and a full rogues gallery of the biggest corporate baddies.

The ball in question will be made by some exploited child labourer in Pakistan more than likely, where 90% of the world's balls are made. Brief outrage during France 1998 at media exposure of sweatshop practices in Pakistan led to 'code of practice' being adopted by FIFA and the major sportswear multinationals,
promising no forced labour, equality of opportunity, work hour restrictions, minimum wages and all the rest. Backed up by independent monitoring of course!

Eight years later and... guess what, little's changed. Child labour and substandard working conditions are prevalent as ever, with subcontractors farming work out to villages away from the monitoring zones, while some companies are switching production to China where they get even less scrutiny.

At the end of the day, an event like the world cup is a business gravy train for corporate juggernauts - which has got nothing to do with helping the sport on a grassroots level. Corporate shareholders and corrupt officials in football associations around the world will make sure that precious little of the bonanza
reaches the bare-foot kids in the majority world, all huddled round one battered portable TV, dreaming of glory in the 'beautiful game'.

Nevermind, none of that's nearly so dramatic as a penalty shootout....c'mon Eng-er-land!

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