Politics

The NFL Super Bowl – Africa Connection

by Nelima 

So while the Pittburg Steelers were celebrating their victory, the Cardinals were trying to get rid of all those pre-printed T-shirts that announced the Arizona Cardinals as the winners of the 2009 Super Bowl Champs. An article in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette says that those T-shirts will be donated to poor families in El Salvador. Also for donation are clothes from the Baltimore Ravens and and Philadelphia Eagles, who both lost their conference title games. That gear will make its way to Africa courtesy of the Christian relief organization, World Vision.

And while some people in Africa will be benefitting off the NFL’s Super Bowl, many labor rights activists were protesting the organization’s cozy partnership with Bridgestone/Firestone. For those of you who watched the game (or the ads) you probably saw the firestone commercial during half time. Firestone was branded the ‘Official Tire Sponsor’ of the Super Bowl XLII and XLIII, and the Stop Firestone Campaign is using this publicity to bring attention to their labor practises in Liberia. Here are some excerpts from their website.

Peter Murray, the National Football League’s senior vice president of partnership marketing and sales, chimed in: “By teaming with a global leader like Bridgestone, we can make America’s favorite event even more powerful.”

According to a 2005 lawsuit filed by the International Labor Rights Fund, a Washington-based advocacy organization, Bridgestone/Firestone allegedly overworks, underpays and exposes its 4,000 Liberian employees to hazardous chemicals and pesticides. Its subsidiary also oversees what has been called de facto slavery.

In addition to the lawsuit, which is pending in Indiana, Bridgestone/Firestone has drawn fire from other quarters. The Liberian Environmental Protection Agency has cited the company’s subsidiary for dumping toxic waste in Harbel’s Farmington River, and in early 2007, the corporate parent won the “Public Eye Global Award” for irresponsible corporate behavior because of its record on child labor and the environment. The “award” ceremony is held concurrently with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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