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Indian Child Labor Exploited in Production of Soccer Balls

Sep 16, 2008 – 11:08 AM
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Michael David Smith

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Many of the soccer balls that children in the United States and Europe play with are hand-stitched by children in India who work under brutal conditions for pennies a day, according to a report that will air tonight on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

The report demonstrates that soccer balls sold at Wal-Mart and other American stores were produced by children who were sold into indentured servitude by their parents in India. After past scandals about soccer ball companies using child labor, many companies started putting labels on their balls that say the balls weren't made with child labor. But Real Sports shows that those labels are often sewn on the balls by children as young as 6 years old.

Real Sports correspondent Bernard Goldberg interviews one Indian man who is working to stop the use of child labor, but he's a lonely voice with a Herculean task ahead of him. Goldberg's report is a sobering look at the soccer ball industry, without a happy ending.

Real Sports first airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and re-airs throughout the month.
Filed under: Sports