If, like me, you sat down to watch some Premier League football on Sky this weekend, you might have noticed a few subtle differences. The presenters and pundits were holding green microphones, some players and officials were wearing green armbands, and there kept being mention of it being the "Green Football Weekend".
To be honest, it all came as rather a shock to me. I'm an obsessive football fan who works within an industry that is about sustainability, and I'd literally never heard of it until about 4pm on Sunday. Upon further inspection (and in researching for this article), quite a few clubs were doing initiatives to promote this event, and looking at the official website, there are a bunch of great resources for school age children helping them to get involved, including a "league table" of which team's supporters have achieved the most.
However, I must admit the whole thing left me with one overriding question of "So what?". Whilst the event website does have some resources for kids, that is basically all that is on there. There's a 35 second video introduction and a few links and quotes, but nothing of any substance.
Credit to the media and broadcasters really for doing the heavy lifting as Sky, BT and BBC have done a fair job of sharing useful information but its hard to not be cynical about when, for example, in the Tottenham vs Manchester City game yesterday, the referee was wearing a green armband but none of the players were. There might be a perfectly good reason for this (or more likely a stupid Premier League rule reason) but whatever the cause, it confuses whatever messaging they are trying to get across.
In September 2021, Sky tried something similar to this with #GameZero, which to me at least was slightly better publicised but the whole thing does reek a little bit of tokenism, or dare I say it, "greenwashing".
I wrote recently about the fairly embarrassing 20 minute flight that Nottingham Forest took to an away game and incidents like that, the other flights mentioned in the article and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lamenting the 4 hour journey from Manchester to London by coach all give off the impression that football is doing enough so they hope to avoid mass scrutiny but a terrible lot more.
We shouldn't abandon the Green Football Weekend because of a slightly false start, but the organisers now have a full year to do a whole lot better for 2024, and I hope I can report back then with better news!