Clubs, the Premier League and the FA must stop scoring green own goals and drop polluting sponsors
Green Football Weekend encourages fans to score green goals for their clubs. This is important: by working together as fans we can cut emissions and, even more importantly, drive shifts in behaviour and social norms.
It’s in our common interest as football fans to protect and ensure the future of the game we love. A heating planet, with more frequent and severe weather events, will increasingly shape the future of football. From unbearable heat impacting players and fans, to flooded pitches, the climate crisis has an enormous impact on football .
Time to kick out polluting sponsors and ads
Green Football Weekend has brought sustainability to the forefront of leagues, clubs and fans’ minds, but to address the climate crisis, both within football and beyond it, means looking at sponsorship.
As the most watched and loved league in the world, the Premier League is also one of the biggest advertising billboards out there, with shirt sponsorship deals alone worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Premier League clubs are often used as billboards for some of the biggest polluters on the planet, including airlines and banks that continue to bankroll fossil fuel projects around the world. Companies that are willfully polluting our atmosphere should not be allowed to pollute our game.
Polluters partner with the Premier League to improve their international brand recognition and to benefit from the status, emotion, and reach of Premier League football. If clubs, the Football Association (FA) and the Premier League are serious about tackling climate change, they must kick out big polluters.
In practice, this means adapting the rules on advertising and sponsorship to exclude polluting activities and sponsors. Breaking ties with harmful ads and sponsors has a long history in sports. Tobacco advertisements are forbidden in English football because of their proven health impacts. The World Health Organisation calls climate change the biggest health threat facing humanity. Advertising what harms and kills us, is not consistent with sports’ values of health, legacy and heritage. Just like the tobacco industry, the fossil fuel industry knows that it’s beneficial to associate itself with clubs and their young players, who are role models of excellent performance and health.
Frank Huisingh from Fossil Free Football: “Young football players, like their fans who follow their every move, live in the era of a rapidly escalating climate crisis. It is unfair to ask young players to be a running billboard for big climate polluters threatening their future.”
Inconsistent with commitments made
The FA is, just like Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton, a signatory to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework. One of only five commitments is to “promote sustainable and responsible consumption”. Sponsors and advertisements promoting polluting behaviour is the exact opposite of this commitment. Participation in the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework is to be applauded, but once this step is taken it should really mean something.
Despite Liverpool being a signatory to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, it emblazons its jerseys with StandardChartered’s logo – a global bank with a disastrous climate record. Research from Market Forces shows that in 2021 alone Standard Chartered funded fossil fuel expansion projects that will emit 2.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide across their lifetimes – five times the annual emissions of the entire United Kingdom.
Liverpool fan Michael Hardy, active for Fossil Free LFC: “Sponsorship deals such as this definitely do not align with the club’s values. They are neither sustainable nor responsible. Clubs must do more than sign up to UN frameworks, they need to take action! This starts by kicking fossil fuels out of our club and kicking fossil fuels out of football!”
For questions, you can contact Frank Huisingh +31646998442; firstname.lastname@example.org
Fossil Free Football is an organisation of football fans, campaigning to kick polluting sponsors out of football. It started in 2022 and works with a growing group of football fans within Europe and beyond.