Football fans call upon Dutch football association KNVB to kick out sponsor ING Bank

During the Nations League match between the Netherlands and Belgium on the 25th September, football fans will stage a protest against ING Bank, the main sponsor of both teams, for its continued investment into fossil fuel projects around the world.

Last week, Fossil Free Football and Fossielvrij NL (the Dutch sister organisation to sent a letter to the Dutch football association, KNVB, in which they called for the end of the sponsorship deal between ING at the Netherlands national team.

The climate crisis threatens the beautiful game today and in the near future. As public concern grows around the climate crisis, and demands for greater action grow louder, football clubs can play a pivotal role in providing sustainable leadership, engaging fans, and ensuring the legacies of their clubs for decades to come. A recent survey of over 1,400 football fans in the UK revealed that over 90% agreed on the importance of protecting the environment and fighting climate change.

ING are the focus of this protest due to their long term relationship with the KNVB and the Dutch national team. In this way, they contribute to the important goals of the KNVB: to make football accessible for everyone. This positive image of the KNVB, Dutch football and the Dutch national teams reflects on ING. But when it comes to the climate, the bank invests more in fossil fuel companies than in football. In 2021 this amounted to 11 billion EUR, the average is 9 billion EUR a year (see BankTrack and FossielvrijNL for more background on this). Through this, the ING Bank finances the climate crisis, against the urgent advice of the UN and the International Energy Agency to halt new investments into fossil fuels.

Frank Huisingh of Fossil Free Football, said: “When it comes to tackling the climate crisis, ING is playing for the other team. The climate crisis directly threatens football and those that love to play it and watch it. We can already see how floods, extreme heat and unpredictable rainfall patterns are impacting the beautiful game – and things will get worse without moving our economy away from fossil fuels. It is bizarre for KNVB, the highest football governing body in the Netherlands, to continue a sponsorship deal with a bank that directly finances the climate crisis.”

Sponsorship and advertisements by climate polluters is very common in football. From Liverpool with StandardCharted, to the Africa Cup of Nations with TotalEnergies, as well as the many renowned clubs sponsored by airlines and SUV manufacturers.

There is a groundswell of football fan backlash against these high-carbon sponsorship deals, including Liverpool fans campaigning against their club’s sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered and Bayern Munich fans speaking out against sponsor QatarAirways. Just like tobacco ads were snuffed out in the 1980s, fossil fuel ads and sponsorship deals need to be kicked out of football.

The letter to the KNVB is an initiative by Fossil Free Football and supported by Fossielvrij NL, which currently campaigns for a fossil free ING. Fossil Free Football is a grassroots initiative by football fans, with the goal of pushing football associations and clubs to kick out climate polluting sponsors and organise football in a more sustainable way.

September 25, 2022

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