The World Cup could see an increase in child labour linked to the "economic bonanza" that will accompany it, United Nations Children's Fund child labour specialist Aida Girma said on Tuesday.
"There is little experience in organising major international sporting events in settings where the number of poor and vulnerable children are so high," Girma said at the launch of a report on child labour.
She said many children could be drawn by the excitement and the possibilities of earning money and were vulnerable to exploitation.
"Criminal syndicates may thrive during such events and target children in order to fulfil the perceived increase in demand for prostitution and drugs which the event is expected to bring."
Child protection top priority
Unicef and the International Labour Organisation would contribute to strengthening child protection systems. The programme would strengthen procedures and protocols for response to children in need, provide a safe haven in dangerous situations, and establish child-friendly spaces at four of the Fifa fan festivals.
These would be in Soweto, Sandton, Port Elizabeth and Nelspruit.
The organisation would also promote adherence to the international code against commercial sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism as well as raising awareness.
"The risks associated with the World Cup are symptomatic, not only of high levels of vulnerabilities of children in South Africa and in the sub-region, they are also symptomatic of weak prevention and response systems," said Girma. - (Sapa, May 2010)