by Chiara Aruffo
Forest Green Rovers, an English Football League Two club, is ‘the greenest club in the world’ and uses advertising space during matches to send out warning messages about climate change.
The Forest Green Rovers club defines itself as the greenest club in the world and not just because of the colour of its shirt. The club was founded in 1889 in Forest Green, in the suburbs of Nailsworth in Gloucestershire, south-west England. It plays today in the Football League Two, the fourth division of English football, but is nevertheless one of the most famous clubs in the country. The history and the events that have brought this fame certainly deserve a separate article, let’s just say that the turning point came in 2010 when Dale Vince, a great promoter of renewable energy and founder of Ecotricity, a green electricity company, took over as chairman. Since then, the club took a clear direction towards zero emissions: in 2017 FIFA described it as “the greenest club in the world”, in 2018 it was the first club to obtain a “carbon neutral” certificate from the United Nations and in 2019 it submitted a project for the construction of the EcoPark, “the greenest stadium in the world”, designed by archistar Zaha Hadid.
What happened at the beginning of the month, put once again the Forest Green Rovers in the spotlight. During the home match on the 9th October against Swindon, four minutes inside the game, the billboards began to show what we Italians would call “pubblicità progresso” (social advertising): a series of messages aiming at raising awareness on climate change and similar topics. The numbers displayed on the LED screens showed, for example, how many tonnes of ice had melted on match day, how many plastic bottles of water had been sold since the beginning of the match, and a counter of CO2 emissions on the day of the match. The show was planned by president Dale Vince together with Robert del Naja, also known as 3D and for being the artistic director of the band Massive Attacks. Dale Vince said, “Fans are bombarded with advertisements to buy everything during the games, we want to show the impact that the purchases have. The decisions we make when we buy something have an impact on the climate, ecological and health crises we’re experiencing“. The team is not new to moves like this (since 2015 they have only sell vegan food at the stadium) and we will certainly hear more about it in the future.
Cover picture: Forest Green Rovers website