In 2013, the Brunel University published a groundbreaking research on sexual exploitation and the FIFA World Cup.
The key message conveyed was that although Mega Sporting Events may increase the risk of child sexual exploitation, there is no data to determine whether, how and to what extent these risks translate into harm. Most importantly, the study highlighted that one should not assume that no data means that there is no problem.
With the aim of responding to the lack of evidence and better understand the rights violations against children, the recently published research by the University of Dundee has pointed to sexual exploitation of children as one of the four key violations that happen around Mega Sporting Events – along with police (and army) violence, displacement and child labour.
The interview data showed that poor, marginalised girls aged 9 to 17 as “particularly at risk from sexual exploitation and harassment”. Before the event, child sexual exploitation was observed near prostitution zones next to refurbished stadiums, whereas during the event children were seen within already existing prostitution zones, and there were potential cases suspected in private or VIP areas in stadiums.