“European football championship: who won and who lose”

In France is going on the European Football Championship. An event so relevant to make disappear millions of people on the streets protesting against the reform of employment (similar to the italian JobsAct).

Everyone focuses on football teams, stadiums and players. And, of course, on advertising and sponsors. It is useless to deny it: if the football teams can spend such sums for their players and everything else it is only due the sponsorships.

No one, however, watching a soccer game, thinks that the shoes or the shirts worn by these “champions” are the same that have been on the hands of millions of workers in almost slavery on the other side of the world. The only difference is that the player who wears those shoes or those shirts is paid handsomely to do so. Those who realize these clothes receives at the end of the month much less than what trade unions and non-governmental organizations evaluate being the living wage.

According to recent research, the sponsorship agreement that one of the major manufacturers of sports apparel has signed with some of the samples that are playing in France, would be enough to pay salaries for one year for 19,500 Vietnamese workers. “These shocking figures show the model of the great sports equipment: an escalation in marketing communications and research of profitability for shareholders, without the workers who contribute to their growth really benefit,” said Nayla Ajaltouni the Collectif Ethique sur l ‘ étiquette, which it has promoted actions to promote human rights in the workplace and that includes several associations of international solidarity and trade union organizations, and has carried out the study.

This is the paradox of sport: while on the one hand marketing and sponsorship expenses (and dividends) rose, the wages paid to production companies (often these subcontracts) in Asia (China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia) remain too low levels. For example, according to data provided by the Collectif Ethique sur l’étiquette, in 2015 dividends paid to shareholders by Nike have grown by more than one hundred percent (to almost 3 billion euro). Same thing for Adidas, where the increase has been more than sixty percent (600 million euro per year). And so for all the major sportswear brands. Yet, according to the researchers, about 100 euro spent by a consumer for a pair of shoes, to a worker who has made incumbent only 2 euro. And about 50 euro paid for a shirt, in the worker’s pockets end up about 50 cents.
The rest ends up in expenses for marketing and for everything but for workers. Even for football clubs. The ten greatest European clubs, for example, only in 2015, received about 400 million of euro in sponsorships. With these 400 million euro was at least possible to make acceptable the wages of well 310,000 Indonesian workers working to produce these products. For the workers only the promises made by the major manufacturers of sportswear: “responsible practices” or “importance of respecting and promoting human rights as a whole” or “concerns of workers’ wages remain among the priorities identified during our audits in the factories.”

Despite the promises and agreements already signed in 2011 to guarantee freedom of association in the factories of subcontractors and protecting the rights of workers, the situation has not changed. A couple of years ago, one of the largest manufacturers of sports apparel had to “participate” in the compensation of 2800 brutally sacked Indonesian workers.
In the last period, the average annual salary in China (one of the countries in which it was made most sports of the most renowned brands) has increased by 2.5 times and the minimum wage by three. These suggested many industries and decide to moved to other countries (such as Vietnam and Indonesia). A way to transfer production to countries where labor rights are virtually nonexistent. Countries like Vietnam where, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), in 2015, nearly nine out of ten factories have not respected the rules on paid leave. Or a factory in Indonesia where almost three do not pay their workers according to the local minimum wage, set at 80 euro per month. And where, in two-thirds of the factories, the duration of shift work is regularly exceeded. On the other hand, in these countries, the average salary of the workers of many of these factories is lower than even the living wage: 102 euro against 209 euro in Indonesia, 115 against 229 in Cambodia and 174 euro against 247 euro in Vietnam.
Money saved. The same that can be used to grant dividends to shareholders (unaware of being the new slavers of the XXI century) or to sponsor teams and players who are taking part in the European Football Championships.

C.Alessandro Mauceri


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