Child Exploitation and the FIFA World Cup: A review of risks and protective interventions [Brunel University London]

This review was commissioned by the Child Abuse Programme (CAP) of Oak Foundation, a large international philanthropic organisation. It forms part of CAP’s effort to win societal rejection of practices such as the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents around major sporting events (MSEs), and to embed prevention and protection from exploitation as a permanent concern for global sports-related bodies.

This review is intended to inform action in countries that host MSEs and to provide some suggestions on how hosting countries can avoid past pitfalls and mistakes in relation to child exploitation, especially economic and sexual exploitation. Importantly, it also acts as a call to action by those responsible for commissioning and staging MSEs, such as FIFA and the IOC, to anticipate, prepare for and adopt risk mitigation strategies and interventions. Positive leadership from these culturally powerful bodies could prove decisive in shifting hearts, minds and actions in the direction of improved safety for children.

A three-pronged research design was adopted: more than 70 experts in NGOs, sport organisations and government departments were approached for interviews; a systematic search of relevant literature was conducted; and, several case studies were selected from past child protective interventions associated with MSEs. The work was intended to discover the extent of the evidence base supporting protective interventions associated with MSEs that address risk mitigation in general and child economic and sexual exploitation in particular.