Footballers step up for the climate crisis

Climate Change

Environmental football non-profit Football For Future (FFF) has partnered with Nike to create a new Climate Champion Handbook for Nike athletes, educating them on climate change and its relationship with football.

By Dr Seema Javed

A few years ago if you mentioned ‘football’ and ‘climate’ in the same sentence you’d be ridiculed. But now there are signs of individuals and organisations realising the importance of this issue, most significantly perhaps, from professional players.

Héctor Bellerín has become a  figure for sustainability in football, using his platform not only to raise awareness about climate change and to make a direct positive impact. He has become a major shareholder in carbon-neutral League Two side, Forest Green Rovers. Patrick Bamford – one of the Premier League’s players – has also been using the power of football to inspire to stop climate change.

Now Football For Future (FFF) is partnering with The Dixon Foundation to support football personalities to become ‘Climate Champions’.

Climate Champions are individuals who use their platform to stand up for the planet. They are football personalities, ranging from professional players to managers, retired players, and famous fans of the game. They have released a Handbook for the champions to understand the relationship between football and climate change. This is the first example of a sports brand educating their athletes on the interrelationship between sport and climate change and supporting them to use their platform and raise awareness.

Nike athletes, Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal FC), Kai Havertz (Chelsea FC & Germany), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea FC & Canada), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea FC) and Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur FC & England) are the first footballers to support the Climate Champion Handbook in their efforts to educate football fans on the threats of the climate crisis to the future of the game.

What is the relationship between football and climate change?

The relationship between football and climate change is clear: The average grassroots pitch in England already loses five weeks a season to bad weather.

To accommodate the recent 40C heatwave, the England women’s team moved training times forward. Sport also contributes to climate change, with an estimated global carbon bootprint the size of Denmark, or an equivalent nation – and that is at the low end of estimates.

Football has enormous potential to raise environmental awareness and drive climate action; over two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to watch the 2022 FIFA World Cup final.

The handbook covers how to encourage football fans to be leaders in the climate movement by changing everything from how they travel to games, and what they eat at half time including:

  • The fundamentals of climate change.
  • The interrelationship between climate, sustainability and football.
  • What Football For Future is doing to tackle climate change?
  • How Nike is mitigating environmental impact?
  • How Nike athletes can make a difference?

A not-for-profit organisation building a more environmentally sustainable culture in football “Football For Future have partnered with Nike to create a new Climate Champion Handbook for Nike athletes, educating them on climate change and its relationship with football.

Lotte Wubben-Moy is the first Nike athlete to be sent the Handbook. It has also been sent to Kai Havertz, Jessie Fleming, Magdalena Eriksson and Eric Dier.

This is the first example of a sports brand educating their athletes on the interrelationship between sport and climate change and supporting them to use their platform and raise awareness.

climate change
climate change

EURO 2022 winner and England defender, Lotte Wubben-Moy, said: “The climate crisis is now and it’s not something we can avoid. If football is going to have a future, the sport needs to use its relations with the world’s biggest brands and companies to ensure they do their part. Sponsors have a responsibility to educate their athletes on the interrelationship between football and climate change – and Nike partnering with Football For Future to produce this handbook is a step in the right direction.”

Football For Future Founder, Elliot Arthur-Worsop, said: “We’re delighted to work with Lotte and Nike on this pioneering project to activate athletes in the climate space. There is such exciting potential if we can support players and brands to use their platforms to educate their followers about important issues and redefine the climate conversation for new audiences. There is a long way to go – but this is a good first step.”

What is in the toolkit?

The recipients of the Climate Champion Handbook have received it as part of a toolkit.

The toolkit includes social media assets explaining the interrelationship between football and climate change, framed for football fans.

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About the Author

Seema Javed
Dr Seema Javed Environmentalist & Communicator for Climate Change

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