Child exploitation risks at major sporting events

Last updated: 01 Jan 2013 Topics: Research

The work of the CPSU has successfully improved safeguarding for child athletes, both in the UK and overseas. However, children outside sport are also at risk when major sporting events (MSEs) come to town.

Earlier in 2013, Oak Foundation - a major philanthropy organisation based in Switzerland - funded a project at Brunel University London to assess these risks and to examine past interventions aimed at mitigating them.

Author: Celia Brackenridge, et al
Published: 2013

The research team gathered input from more than 70 experts in international development, safeguarding and sport, and conducted a systematic review of the literature.

The resulting report was used as the basis for a workshop in Brazil in June with over 100 delegates from NGOs and local government staff. These organisations will be responsible for designing and implementing child protection programmes in the host cities for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Key findings

The main findings of the report were:

  • some commercial enterprises associated with MSEs still use child labour
  • children are frequently victims of the community displacement associated with MSEs
  • child sexual exploitation (CSE) linked to MSEs appears to be hidden behind other social problems such as diverted services, family stress, poverty and domestic violence
  • human trafficking for sexual exploitation associated with MSEs appears adult-focussed, responsive to advocacy interventions and difficult to measure; where it does occur it is likely to mask harms to children


Brackenridge, C.H., Palmer-Felgate, S., Rhind, D., Hills, L., Kay, T., Tiivas, A., Faulkner, L. and Lindsay, I. (2013) Child Exploitation and the FIFA World Cup: A review of risks and protective interventions. Uxbridge: Brunel University London and Oak Foundation.


You can download a copy of the Child Exploitation and the FIFA World Cup: A review of risks and protective interventions report and reference list from