Child Labour in Sport: Protecting the Rights of Child Athletes

This White Paper is focused specifically on the work of children in, or on the pathway to, elite (high- performance and professional) sport, and the experiences of children and the situations they may encounter that are analogous to child labour. Although children in high-performance and professional sport are not included in the current understanding and measurement of child labour, this paper argues that the conditions and impacts they experience are similar to those of children working in more recognized forms of child labour. Evidence to support this argument is derived from an in-depth review of relevant literatures, and from a series of 24 Consultations with various expert groups. The Sport & Rights Alliance took an active role in developing this paper; acting director Andrea Florence served as one of the 13 experts on the Steering Committee and spoke at the Side Event panel discussion, the recording of which can be viewed below.

The Centre for Sport and Human Rights is very grateful to the members of the Child Labour in Sport Steering Committee and to the participants of the Consultations for their pro bono contributions of time and technical expertise to the development of the White Paper. It also appreciates the financial support of the Oak Foundation.

The White Paper was presented at the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour (Side Event) Durban, South Africa, May 19, 2022.

Watch the replay below.

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Sport has the potential to be a catalyst for human development, unity, and freedom, but too often it instead brings harm to its athletes, fans, and communities. We exist to uncover and rectify the many abuses that exist both in and around sport. We aim to transform sports into an authentic force for good.