The Fairtrade Football Story

The manufacturing of quality footballs has changed little since the 1960s when leather balls where phased out in favour of plastic and artificial materials but the actual process of making footballs, stitching the panels together by hand, has changed little over decades. The stitching process of making a football is still typified by high levels of human labour; all good quality footballs are hand as opposed to machine stitched and it takes a day for a good football stitcher to make just 4 -5 footballs.

Fairtrade Football Stitcher


This is why the football industry has been tainted by accusations of child labour and poverty wages. A UNICEF report from 1998 pointed out that football stitchers in Pakistan where receiving  as little as 20 pence per ball and child labour was endemic  in the industry.

The challenge for Fairtrade football production was to challenge the twin evils of poverty wages and child labour while positively engaging with producer factories to develop  best Fairtrade practice.  This was relatively easily done by improving the wages of adult football stitchers (what parent would send their children to work if they didn’t have to?) and by applying a Fairtrade football premium to every ball made. Even though each ball raises relatively small amounts in premiums, the multiple nature of the business meant that premiums rapidly built up to form a fund that can widely support health and welfare projects for workers and their families in Pakistan.

To date Fairtrade football premiums have paid for a modern medical clinic with two full time doctors and free prescription medicines. The premiums also pay for microcredit loans so that Fairtrade football stitchers can start their own small businesses and ultimately leave the export economy. Examples and case studies outlining how Fairtrade premiums are spent can be found on our web site.

Fairtrade football premiums have pay for two full time Doctors

While the vast majority of footballs are hand stitched in Pakistan the encroachment of non hand stitched balls is well under way and moulded balls used in recent tournaments have  drawn huge amounts of criticisms from players and managers, not least for their apparent inability to fly straight.

Buy a Fairtrade Football and support the local community in Pakistan

To watch a video about the Fairtrade Football story watch the video here

An ETHLETIC Fairtrade Football


Fairtrade Football at Edinburgh Uni

Edinburgh University People & Planet society celebrated World Fairtrade Day on May 12th with a Fairtrade football tournament on the Meadows. Last tournament’s runners up, the Edinburgh Revue Comedians, returned to take on People & Planet FC and English Literature Society who were making their debut appearance in the world of Fairtrade football.

Fairtrade Football in action at Edinburgh Uni

Fairtrade Football in action at Edinburgh Uni

On a rare sunny day in Edinburgh the three teams took time out from exam revision to compete for prizes of Fairtrade cava, honey ale and chocolates which were kindly donated by Scotmid Cooperative, and Fairtrade Ying Yang footballs donated by Fair Corp. Halftime bananas and brazil nuts were also provided by Equal Exchange.

Fairtrade Football Tournament at Edinburgh Uni

Fairtrade Football Tournament at Edinburgh Uni

The Comedians suffered an unlikely early defeat to the tournament’s underdogs, English Literature Society, but regained their composure to win three consecutive games to claim the title. People & Planet FC finished a close second after a couple of tense end-to-end matches, with their vocal support from the sidelines spurring them on to a 5-2 drubbing of Lit Soc.

Thanks to everyone involved and to Fair Corp for providing the Fairtrade Footballs.

Joel Sharples, Edinburgh University Student

For a Fairtrade football click here

Fairtrade Football Tournament at Edinburgh University

On Saturday March 3rd People & Planet at Edinburgh University hosted a Fairtrade football tournament to celebrate Fairtrade fortnight.

As part of a programme of events at the university that included Fairtrade chocolate truffle making, a Fairtrade café in the Chaplaincy and a keynote speech from Fiona Hyslop MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, around 45 Edinburgh students shunned a Saturday morning lie-in in favour of the hallowed turf of The Meadows.

With groups as diverse as the Socialist Society, The Student newspaper and the Edinburgh Revue represented on the pitch there were rivalries to be stoked and old scores to settle, but most importantly the tournament brought Edinburgh’s student community together in mutual appreciation of the simple pleasures of a weekend kickabout in the park.

Eight mixed teams competed for the grand prize of a crate of Fairtrade honey ale, with the runners-up happy to walk away with a bottle of Fairtrade South African cava. The final was as close as they come with the skilful but wheezing Edinburgh Revue comedians just losing out on penalties to the tough-tackling and pacy Seager FC after a tense 1-1 draw.

The use of Fairtrade-certified footballs in the tournament was a gentle reminder of how much our everyday lives are intertwined with those of people who may live far away yet whose labour, and often exploitation, we depend on for our nutrition, work and leisure.

Fairtrade Football - ETHLETIC Premier Fairtrade Football

Fairtrade Football - ETHLETIC Premier Fairtrade Football

Football doesn’t have the best reputation as a sport, but that is usually due to the racism, sexism, homophobia and ostentatious materialism that are often associated with it. The provenance of the physical object on which the game depends is rarely considered, yet the tools of the trade of the Premier League superstars are manufactured by workers, usually in Pakistan or China, who earn less in a year than the footballers earn from one training session.

Through our celebration of Fairtrade football we hopefully brought a bit more attention to this fact and demonstrated that there is a fairer alternative. The beautiful game doesn’t have to have an ugly underbelly, and as the most popular sport in the world it is in a unique position to act as a vehicle of social change.

Guest Blog from Joel Sharples, Edinburgh University Student

Check out a Fairtrade Football now

Fairtrade in Scotland

As part of their Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations the Scottish Fair Trade Forum (SFTF) invited me to Edinburgh for a day of talks and a wonderful junior Fairtrade football tournament. The SFTF has been a good customers of ours, we’ve created bespoke Fairtrade promotional footballs for them on two occasions.

The day kicked off quite literally with a Fairtrade football competition at Hopefield Primary School and involved four other primaries.  The eight teams were all named after African countries and in the spirit of equality every team included three girl players. I saw one girl score four excellent goals and wouldn’t be surprised to see her playing for Scotland in the future! Take a look at some of the photos here

Despite very strong winds and difficult conditions, all games were played sportingly and it was a pleasure to present the first Bonnyrigg Fairtrade Cup to the winning team – Ivory Coast.  Thanks to Jamie Dougal for officiating the contest so well and all the staff at Hopefield Primary.

Plans are afoot to replicate this contest next year nationally; over the whole of Scotland. We are of course looking forward to supporting this.

We then popped into nearby Lasswade High School where I was briefed on all of their Fairtrade activities, I then presented Fairtrade certificates to all of the pupils involved for promoting Fairtrade at the school.

After a lovely lunch provided by the kind people of Nicholas Buccleuch coffee shop, Dalkeith we went on to Newbattle Abbey College were we met by James Dolan, a campaigning student who is doing his best to change the college’s purchasing policy in favour of Fairtrade, After delivering a talk on the Fairtrade football story I left discount vouchers for all of the students who attended my talk. Thanks to James Dolan for setting up the talk and also for showing us around the college and good luck with getting Fairtrade products into Newbattle Abbey College.

Our final meeting of the day was at Penicuik Athletic Football Club, where I talked to the club management about the story behind Fairtrade footballs and we were even joined by local MSP Claudia Beamish.  A photo shoot was arranged on the pitch, thanks to Jim Dick for providing these pictures.

Jamie with the Team Management of Penicuik Athletic Football Club

Jamie with the Team Management of Penicuik Athletic Football Club

So overall a very positive day in and around Edinburgh, it was great to see how many supporters of Fairtrade there were in Scotland. Thanks to Martin Meteyard for organising the whole day and Ian Miller for his generous hospitality.

For more information on the Scottish Fair Trade Forum visit 

For more information on Fairtrade visit the Fairtrade Foundation

Drink, Eat, Wear & Play - Take a Step for Fairtrade Fortnight (27 Feb - 11 March)

I was wondering what to write about for next week’s Fairtrade Fortnight and the Fairtrade Foundation‘s Take a Step campaign. What brands should I talk about? What steps have I taken for Fairtrade? What steps are our customers making?

Fairtrade Foundation - Take a Step in 2012

Fairtrade Foundation - Take a Step in 2012


What I realised was that there was so much I could talk about, which has got to be a good thing. For one the Fairtrade label is now well known and I can now buy with confidence in so many shops and cafes. From the coffee we freshly make in the office every morning (Sainsbury’s Fairtade So Organic, Percol, Cafe Direct - we do like to mix it up) to the tea and instant coffee I drink at home from Clipper and the bananas and flowers I buy from Waitrose. We can now even nibble on Harry’s Nuts, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and wash ourselves in Visionary Soap. all which makes it easy to take a step for Fairtrade.

Percol Fairtrade Coffee

Percol Fairtrade Coffee

Fairtrade is established in fashion too, writing this I’m even wearing my favourite pair of purple Fairtrade Pants to Poverty and a Fairtrade organic cotton tshirt from SPUK and in my wardrobe I’ve got lots of things from People Tree. And this morning I’ve just read a double page spread in the Metro on Fairtrade fashion including Fairtrade gold jewellery, so it’s easy to step out in Fairtrade style.

Fairtrade Pants to Poverty

Fairtrade Pants to Poverty

We were really excited when the Fairtrade Foundation told us about this year’s theme Take a Step - it fits our Fairtrade footballs and Fairtrade trainers perfectly as both are foot-based. Over the country we have thousands of customers taking Fairtrade steps, everytime they put their ETHLETIC trainers on.

In the office we tried to estimate how many steps people over the years in had taken our trainers, but the numbers got so big and confusing that we had to give up. How often do people wear our trainers versus their other shoes was just the tip of the discussion! It’s safe to say there have been millions and millions of Fairtrade steps in our ETHLETIC shoes over the years.

ETHLETIC Trainers - Fairtrade Trainers

ETHLETIC Trainers - Fairtrade Trainers

Plus there are hundreds of schools and football clubs up and down the country playing with our Fairtrade footballs and sportsballs - so how many steps have there been during those games for Fairtrade? We didn’t even try to work this one out, how many steps do primary school kids take in a game versus a youth club game was just one conundrums we asked?

Fairtrade Football - Premier High Vis Fairtrade Football

Fairtrade Football - Premier High Vis Fairtrade Football

So what steps can you take for Fairtrade? Well there’s no excuse, every time you walk into shop or cafe look out for the Fairtrade mark and buy Fairtrade. If it isn’t there ask the retailer nicely why they don’t stock Fairtrade or even write to their head office - little steps will become big steps and retailers will listen.

Take a step now and get involved with Fairtrade Fortnight - register your steps here

Shop Fairtrade Trainers now

Shop Fairtrade Footballs now



What the Papers Say…

As the New Year is creeping up on us, we have decided to reflect on the fantastic coverage we have recently had.

During the summer we featured in The Times Style magazine displaying our ethical trainers in their men’s section. In October our Fairtrade Hi-Top trainers were vibrantly presented in the Telegraph’s Christmas Guide and Marie Claire included us in their ‘guilt-free guide’ to Christmas presents for their December issue.




Fellow ethical company People Tree also featured our eco-friendly trainers in their Autumn Winter 2011 catalogue! We are very excited to see what 2012 brings us and will keep you updated with our news along the way. Keep an eye out for our products in the media and let us know your thoughts!







We wish you a Merry Christmas from us here at Fair Corp.

Check out our range of ethical trainers now!

Spotted - Our Fairtrade Balls in Co-op!

I was really pleased that Co-operative Food opened a new store at the top of my road in Brighton, they’re an ethical business like us, and they stock a great range of Fairtrade goods including great Fairtrade wines!

In the past we’ve supplied The Co-Operative with bespoke footballs and rugby balls, but I was surprised when the first thing I saw when I walked in was a big picture of some kids having fun with our Fairtrade rugby balls! We’re going to try and find out who and what this community group is.

Our Fairtrade Rugby Balls - Pictured in our local Co-operative Food

Our Fairtrade Rugby Balls - Pictured in our local Co-operative Food

Supermarkets should do more to stock Fairtrade products but we as customers need to show there is a strong demand for them. So next time you’re in the supermarket, make sure there’s lots of Fairtrade brands in your basket.

Check out our ethical Fairtrade rugby balls.

We also offer a promotional football / sports ball service for orders over 300 balls.

Christmas Delivery Times

We realise Christmas can be a chaotic and crazy time – there is, after all, so much to organise and enjoy! Fair Corp are trying to make this frantic, festive season that bit easier for you by offering 1st Class Royal Mail delivery until the 21st December and next day confirmed delivery on 22nd - 23rd (order cut off by 2pm on 23rd) so you can be assured to get your last minute buys in time for Christmas Day!

Why wait?

However, if you want to be organised now, check out our fantastic ethical and eco-friendly gifts in our Christmas Shop!

Grab a great bargain today for the perfect ethical Christmas present for him, the best eco-friendly Christmas gift for her or a fab Fairtrade Christmas gift for kids!

Pants to Poverty!

Just in time for Christmas, Fair Corp are offering you a new line of ethical, Fairtrade fashion in the form of organic underwear! We are selling a fantastic range bought to you by our friends at Pants to Poverty who are passionate about making poverty history.

Their Fairtrade pants are cool, classic and completely ethical, so not only will you look great wearing these timeless pants but you will feel great and guilt-free too!

£1 is donated to the Pants to Poverty charity for every pair sold which supports their farmer projects in India.

We are offering a great, new range of the Pants to Poverty’s collection available for both men and women. Take a look at the classic, Fairtrade and organic cotton pants today for the perfect ethical Christmas present.