The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Beautiful Game with Ugly Costs

Dec 5, 2022

The beautiful multi-colored team outfits and shoes for the World Cup come mainly from Nike, a U.S. company, and Adidas, a German company.

Both, of course, sub-contract the vast amount of their manufacturing to the countries of South Asia, especially China and Vietnam. But a recent report on World Cup merchandise said Myanmar, the military dictatorship once known as Burma, is paying its garment workers sewing World Cup merchandise less than $60 per month.

Perhaps Myanmar is the worst, but then a few years ago South Korean garment manufacturers were accused of using slave labor from the Uighur area, a Muslim part of China, to make sportswear for World Cup soccer leagues.

By sub-contracting like this, all the companies claim their hands are clean. If workers make starvation wages, if factory conditions lead to fires killing thousands, as happened in Pakistan and Bangladesh recently, it’s not THEIR fault, it’s the fault of the sub-contractors.

But soccer is hardly the only place where all the profits end in the owners’ dirty hands. Nike also supplies the jerseys and footwear for half the NCAA basketball teams and half of the Division 1 football teams.

Major league baseball used to get its equipment from workers making starvation wages in Haiti. When political unrest broke out there, the suppliers moved their equipment manufacturing to Costa Rica. One company has a monopoly on making MLB balls, for which Costa Rican workers are lucky if they make $400 per month (less than $100 per week). These balls are sold to fans with team authentication for about $100 each.

One of many profitable businesses for the rich world’s relaxation.