So I am English (and Irish), my family love football and we have been supporting England in the FIFA World Cup! #goEngland!
Now don't get me wrong, I really enjoy it! It is an incredibly powerful sport that has a huge influence on the world! In fact everywhere I travelled I found children playing football and wearing kits from ManU, Arsenal, Barcelona, you name it! I was always surprised to find myself watching a match in the most remote villages, such as a settlement along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam, the slums of Manilla, Philippines, or kids practising kick ups outside temples in Bagan, Myanmar. How on earth does everyone know how to play?? This amazed me! It was quite refreshing in a way because it reminded me of home. I like the community aspect of the sport - bringing people together; team players and supporters. It doesn't even matter if you can't speak the same language!
But since doing my RoEco thing, now, when I am watching these men running around a pitch in clothes (unfortunately), it has really made me think about where their kit was made and whether it was ethically done so...
I mean my initial reaction was that the football industry is filthy rich, it must cost a lot and surely people in such high profiles would consider ethical factors. Surely they wouldn't only care about huge profit and have more money than sense...
Football Factory - #ComeOnEngland
Well after a very quick google search and finding a few interesting articles on this topic, I soon had my doubts...
England's £160 World Cup football kit 'made in Bangladeshi factory where workers are paid as little as 21p-an-hour'
Despite that (in 2016) the FA gave Nike a 12-year contract extension worth £400 million, it turns out that the official Nike shirt and shorts are reportedly made at a factory in Bangladesh, inside a government-controlled zone, where female garment workers are paid as little as £1.68 a day!! #footballfactory
But don't worry because...
Nike, makes the England strip socks in Bulgaria, where they claim they do business “ethically and sustainably” and suppliers must pay “at least the local minimum wage or prevailing wage”.
Okay, yes these sources are from the likes of newspaper articles in The Telegraph and Mirror, but for once I am convinced they are talking some reality!
If you didn't quite get my English sarcasm at the beginning, I wasn't really too surprised at all to discover this! Yet of course I am still very disappointed!
What did surprise me though, was reading some peoples (ignorant) comments below the articles such as:
What' the problem? The workers are paid the going rate for the area that they live in and the garments are sold at the going rate in the market that they are sold
to which someone (quite rightly) responded...
A £160 football kit, that was manufactured at 21p per hour, you dont see the problem with that? would you work a 16 hour day for £3.36? Have you lived and worked in Bangladesh, i'm guessing not, so how do you what the going rate is?
Fact is these people are exploited by big business, live destitute poverty with little to no chance of raising their standards of living, so people like you can buy overpriced clothing, whilst companies like nike make massive profits lining the pockets of share holders and executives? there is the problem, spelled out for you!
We put our trust in the FA who have a duty to oversee England’s engagement with the World Cup, including their kit, (which is something we should be proud of as a country!) But they have made this pretty difficult to be proud of if it turns out it was made on the back of people being exploited... #shame
I will continue to support England's football matches for as long as they last in the FIFA World Cup (so far so good!!! :D) However, I won't be looking at them in the same way... in all honestly I would much rather watch them naked and see the sweat drip from their (foot)balls, than watch them running around in slavery sweatshop attire! But I guess that would be unethical and probably against the law... ;)
But I have a feeling they are about to give us something to be proud of! :D
Plus there is always a bright side to consider...
I have mentioned the incredible influence football holds across the globe and in my most recent blog post "Eco Fashion is no trend" I talked about the power of marketing. With this in mind
what if our great England team was to lead the way, by inspiring nations to invest in ethical football kits! Why not!? They are already setting fashion trends...
England manager Gareth Southgate is becoming known in the media as a stylish fashion icon, all thanks to his £65 Marks & Spencer waistcoat. He is now considered "the most fashionable man in football!"
It turns out M&S are the official suit supplier to the whole England squad, who have suddenly have seen a 35% rise in waistcoat sales following Southgate's World Cup makeover - they are calling it the
"Gareth Southgate effect"
What a positive opportunity this could be! But the question is, who makes their clothes? and are they ethically sourced?
I was curious to find out more...
When you initially look at the official ethical reports of M&S it appears to score reasonably low, however after looking into it in more complex detail it isn't as bad as it seems - I found this article by Ethical Consumer where they explained these reasons pretty well, demonstrating that overall it actually has a better record on ethics than most of the other companies (of the bunch!)
I also discovered a really helpful blog post by the Ethical Fashion Blog - They researched and blogged about how sustainable and ethical M&S attire is. I was relieved to read that they are in fact committed to improving their sustainability. #phew! They even created what they call their Plan A (they provide detailed information about this on their website). So far their achievements include:
- 32% of their cotton coming from better cotton initiative, fair trade, organic or recycled sources.
- They have trained more than 652,000 workers in general merchandising supply chain since 2010 covering employment rights, health and financial literacy.
- Global Sourcing Principles now cover a wider range of human rights issues. Launched on Human Rights Day in December 2014, They are now working with their suppliers to help them meet these requirements.
- They have established a community Global Community Programme to benefit people in the key regions of the world where M&S products are sourced to strengthen the resilience of communities and security of supply by 2020 e.g. 8000 have been trained in Kenya and South Africa for the Emerging Leadership Initiative and the Project Hope Health Programme in Cambodia which has laready benefitted 14,500 workers.
In conclusion, overall M&S are making good progression and positive changes are happening with supported outcomes.
with a combination of a top mainstream brand such as the likes of M&S and Nike, backed up by a powerful world wide sport, who all evidently have the capability (with their enormous target audience) to make a huge difference to peoples' fashion trends, and therefore could hold some decent power to increasing the success of the sustainable fashion market and protecting the world for the better!
As much as I am enjoying my new game vision... I think a great start would be the England team investing in ethical football kits! Maybe the kits could actually be #MadeInBritain! :-O
Who is with me!?
Lets be #proudtobeBritish #ComeonEngland #footballscominghome