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Football is finally waking up to climate crisis – Forest Green owner Dale Vince

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 2 Feb 2024

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Forest Green chairman Dale Vince believes football is finally waking up to the climate crisis ahead of clubs embracing the latest Green Football Weekend campaign.

Green Football Weekend has returned for a second consecutive year with supporters encouraged to try a vegetarian option instead of a meat dish at football grounds this week where a number of activities will take place.

Arsenal and Liverpool will host a veggie lunch for fans ahead of Sunday’s clash at the Emirates, while Crystal Palace ditched plastic cups for paper beer cups for Tuesday’s home fixture with Sheffield United and West Ham hosted a veggie bake-off.

Other Premier League, Football League and Women’s Super League clubs will highlight the impact of food on climate change with vegetarian and vegan meals typically producing a lower carbon footprint than meat options.

“More than 80 clubs have signed up to it this year and that’s the whole top four flights of English football,” Vince, owner of all-vegan club Forest Green, told the PA news agency.

“I think you look at the level of participation, you’ve got to say football is waking up to this and taking part. I like that.

“That’s what it is all about (awareness). It will be all over Sky Sports and TNT, they will go big on it and it puts it in people’s faces, which is what we did at Forest Green.

“What is really surprising is when you put it in front of people with some simple information about what the problems are and what they can do about it, they do something about it!

“The message here is about food. If we just eat less animals and eat more plants, we can make a huge difference.

“I am a big believer in the power of football to get the message across and get people to change how they live because we’ve seen it at Forest Green.”

Ahead of Green Football Weekend, a study by the University of Leeds showed switching to a veggie burger over a meat alternative for one weekend could save the same amount of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (4,622,998kg) as taking 2,609 cars off the road for a whole year.

It could also save the equivalent of 1,316 football pitches through a reduction in land and water use impacts.

The initiative, which is supported by the EFL, WSL, Football Association and Professional Footballers’ Association, has also launched its Green Football Cup where fans from more than 80 clubs can score goals through simple climate-friendly action.

Goals can be earned by downloading a Veggie Cookbook – that contains recipes from Raheem Sterling and James Ward-Prowse – or by using the AI Veggie Meal Generator as well as registering through the website examples of ditching the car for a walk.

Ex-England international Joe Cole was on hand to support the Green Football Weekend launch at Wembley last month after he tried a plant-based diet towards the end of his playing career.

Cole told PA: “If you cut down here, cut down there, walk to work, there are loads of things and this is a small part of people being informed to understand the affect we have.

“If everyone does their little bit, then hopefully the next generation will be better than us.”

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