Environment

Top footballers urged to become climate champions and help make the sport more sustainable

A "climate champion" handbook explains the relationship between football and climate change and encourage athletes to speak out on the issue.

Lotte Wubben-Moy wearing a Football for Future shirt and holding a climate handbook. Image: Football for Future

Top football stars are being called on to lead the way in making the sport more sustainable as part of a new Nike-backed campaign.

Environmental non-profit Football For Future (FFF) has teamed up with the leading sports brand to create “climate champion” handbooks as part of a trailblazing project to educate athletes on speaking out about climate change.

Chelsea’s £70million Champions League hero Kai Havertz and Tottenham’s Eric Dier are among the Premier League stars to be given the handbooks, alongside England’s Women’s Euros winner Lotte Wubben-Moy.

Wubben-Moy called the handbook a “step in the right direction” for football, adding that sponsors “have a responsibility to educate their athletes on the interrelationship between football and climate change”. 

The project is the first time a sports brand has educated players on the relationship between sports and climate change. The handbook forms part of a larger toolkit given to athletes.

FFF, which is made up of sustainability experts, climate scientists and football-creatives, has been on a mission to build a more environmentally sustainable culture in football, as well as raising awareness of how climate change is impacting the game.

Premier League team Wolves were the first to partner with FFF back in May, as part of the club’s ambition to lead the way when it comes to environmental sustainability.

It’s estimated that a quarter of professional clubs in England could be flooded on a regular basis by 2050, while the average grassroots pitch in England is already losing five weeks a season to bad weather. 

During the record-breaking 40C heatwave, which happened during the Women’s Euros, the England team was forced to move training times forward, demonstrating how climate change is already affecting the sport.

Barney Weston, co-director at FFF, said thinking about a typical match day can demonstrate some of the current issues with football’s carbon footprint.

“So firstly, how do you get there? The only public transport option may be really inconvenient,” he told the Big Issue. “Then you get there and there might not be any veggie or vegan options on the menu.

“Then say you want to get a beer. Does it come in a recyclable cup? Are there recycling facilities there? That’s before you think about the players on the pitch and what their kit is made out of,” he explained.

Weston said awareness about the climate crisis in football has generally been low – something FFF hopes to change with its handbook, which includes information on:

● 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.

Other footballers to receive the handbook include Jessie Fleming and Magdalena Eriksson.

Football For Future founder Elliot Arthur-Worsop, said: “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.”

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