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   June 12, 2002 | 1250 IST


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Balls not made in sweat-shops: FIFA

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FIFA strongly denied on Wednesday that official World Cup balls were produced in sweat-shops in India and Pakistan and accused pressure groups of failing to acknowledge its work to combat child labour.

"Despite what is tendentiously reported incorrectly, all of the balls used at this World Cup have been made under strictly controlled conditions in Morocco and Germany," FIFA communications director Keith Cooper told a news conference.

"None of them have been made in India or in Pakistan."

He said World Cup balls being produced in such places were illegal objects made under illegal conditions.

"This is obviously something over which we cannot possibly have any control," he added.

However, FIFA had made substantial efforts to prevent the use of child labour in the manufacture of footballs and other sporting goods, he said.

"FIFA is the only sports federation that has ever seriously addressed the issue of child labour in the sporting goods industry," he said.

"Despite that, we are criticised by pressure groups, many of them who simply do not want to acknowledge the work that is being done by our federation in this respect."

FIFA was co-operating closely with the world federation of the sporting goods industry and the International Labour Organisation and had given $800,000 in aid to promote education in areas where footballs were manufactured, he said.

"We are responsible for organising the World Cup, we are not responsible for the labour conditions in factories," Cooper said.

"Those are responsibilities of other groups, just as they are not responsible for organising the World Cup," he said. "We could not possibly co-operate more."

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