Classical conformal invariance of QCD in the chiral limit is broken explicitly by scale anomaly. As a result, the lightest scalar particle (scalar glueball, or dilaton) in QCD is not light, and cannot be described as a Goldstone boson. Nevertheless basing on an effective low-energy theory of broken scale invariance we argue that inside the hadrons the non-perturbative interactions of gluon fields result in the emergence of a massless dilaton excitation (which we call the ''scalaron''). We demonstrate that our effective theory of broken scale invariance leads to confinement. This theory allows a dual formulation as a classical Yang-Mills theory on a curved conformal space-time background. Possible applications are discussed, including the description of strongly coupled quark-gluon plasma and the spin structure of hadrons.