It started out well. The Brazilian government promised that constructing the new stadiums would be transparent, include community participation, and benefit the people. Unfortunately, that wasn’t actually the case. It was estimated that 250,000 people were evicted in this construction process. Of the 61% of Brazilians who did not think hosting the 2014 World Cup was a good idea, many believed that doing so would take too much money away from public services.
So what are the actual results of the Cup? Not just Germany’s goal in extra time, but what about the results for the workers, who manufactured the clothes for both Germany and Argentina in the final match? Adidas estimates that it will make 2 billion euros in sales for the World Cup, outfitting players as well as referees and other officials. Will the workers in Cambodia see any of this money?
Right now Adidas workers in Cambodia are suffering malnutrition due to low wages. The minimum wage in the country is only 25% of a calculated living wage, as defined by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Will the World Cup profits change things? If they will, we haven’t heard anything yet. What we have heard is Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer announcement that the company moved production from China to Cambodia because China increased the minimum wage.
Cambodian workers are fighting against forced overtime, fixed-term contracts, violence towards workers and reluctance to increase the minimum wage. In fact on May 26th, the United Sisterhood Alliance NGO staged an interesting kind of public art project to draw awareness to the workers problems – a fashion show called “Beautiful Clothes, Ugly Reality.” The models were workers for Adidas, Nike, H&M and other clothing companies. As they walked down the catwalk they carried signs with their demands, both a signal for their companies and the Cambodian government. The fashion show ended with a re-enactment of an incident in a factory last September where authorities struck workers and actually killed five people.