Climate Action

Katie Cross (Pledgeball) and Andrew Aris (SoF) present the project at COP26 in Glasgow. We will use the ball to advocate for climate action at COP27 in Egypt.

One Ball, One World: Football for Global Climate Action

The Ball has long experience advocating for issues such as people with special needs and displaced communities and has always promoted unity, within nations and across borders. Partners, like Special Olympics in 2010 and 2014, have been able to use The Ball to get their messaging on the table of high level decision makers (Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers of Sport etc.), to acquire new sponsors and gain access to funding, as well as benefiting from high-profile public relations opportunities.

“Climate is changing, humans are responsible, the impacts are serious, and the time to act is now” – Katharine Hayhoe, from the book Saving Us

FairPlay Future graffiti designed by youth participants at a SOF Workshop in Dortmund in 2017

In 2022/23 SoF will work with local organisations on route, learning about their climate initiatives and using The Ball to throw a spotlight on their work. Together with these local climate partners, The Ball will gather climate pledges from individuals and on behalf of organisations.

“Climate is changing, humans are responsible, the impacts are serious, and the time to act is now.” – Katharine Hayhoe from her book “Saving Us”.

The ones who are contributing the least to climate change are usually the ones who are already being affected the most. This is the opposite of FairPlay – which is a core principle under which we at SoF has operated for 20 years. Climate change has an impact on every aspect of our lives – and that includes football. Playing, watching, and administering the global game has become more challenging:

In England, heavy rain saw more than twenty professional fixtures canceled in the 2015/16 season and of the 92 teams in the Premier League and EFL, one in four can expect partial or total flooding of their stadium on an annual basis by 2050.

On the sinking island of Kwai (above) in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, people used to play football on grass but it was washed away, now they play on sand. In the near future there will be no place to play as sea levels rise.

Yet we at Spirit of Football believe in teamwork and not just on the pitch: Like winning a football match, tackling climate change requires a team effort. So many of us (three billion plus) share a passion for football. This sense of community can help us to fight for the same goals. We are not in this alone.

“Together we want to get this The fair play Ball rolling. It is a ball for us all. Be part of our team. Everyone can play. Respect your teammates, your opponents and the environment. One Ball, One World.” – Spirit of Football’s Fair Play Ambassador Jürgen Klopp.

Spirit of Football’s Andrew Aris (right) shows Jürgen Klopp the FairPlay SOF School Ball in 2018. Photo: Phil Wake

If the 50,000 people who have signed The Ball on previous journeys – all kinds of people passionate about the beautiful game – would compost their food waste, it could save 15,000,000 kg/CO2 per year – the equivalent of taking 3000 cars off the road. Now imagine the impact that the approximately 3,5 billion football fans worldwide could have!

And that is exactly what gives us at Spirit of Football and our partners in the sport for climate action sector hope. The Ball is setting out to find positive examples of climate action in football and beyond, so that we can learn from each other and inspire even more action that can have a positive impact on our people and the environment. Our first fair play rule is that everyone can play: We invite you to join us. Imagine that The Ball is at your feet, what are you going to do with it?

Spirit’s Climate Journey to New Zealand

The Ball 2022/23 will embark on a bold journey that will go over land and sea, as emission-free as possible, to the 2023 Women’s World Cup (Australia/New Zealand) some 23,000+ km across 25+ countries. This journey is taking us halfway around the world to promote climate action, fairness and gender equality and to build the community of athletes and fans of sport prepared to make and campaign for change. The future of sport could see a shift where much more happens locally and at the grassroots which will both benefit communities and minimise polluting transport.

A Jordanian woman at a SOF workshop in Jordan in 2020 does her first ever header. Change is possible. It just takes a lot of courage.

We at SoF are on a journey of our own to minimize our own climate impact. We intend to replace flying with ground based travel wherever it is possible and feasible for us to do so. We realize that we will not be perfect (we are improving and doing our best).  We aim to document our journey to showcase the difficulties and challenges we face along the way. We have eliminated travel by plane on some of the planned legs, and in other legs of our journey we have replaced flying with driving using a car of our car sharing partner Teil Auto, on other legs we are going by train and one entire leg, the so-called “Tour de Thüringen” in Germany will be done entirely with bicycles.

Our journey begins with our own members’ actions: what we eat, how we live, what we consume and wear and how we travel. We are by no means perfect but we are attempting to improve with every kick of The Ball. This journey begins with each of us and our partners, and spreads to the people we come into contact with on the road at workshops both face to face and online. We hope to inspire climate action worldwide.

Make your pledge with The Ball

The Ball is going on its first ever journey to a Women’s World Cup in Australia & New Zealand. Anyone and everyone is invited to sign it. Sign The Ball, make your Climate Pledge here and challenge others to do it too!

Pledge now!