Led by Sofie Junge Pedersen, the Denmark international, a group of 44 Women’s World Cup players has made a commitment to address the environmental impact of their flights to and from Australia and New Zealand for the tournament. This initiative of Women’s World Cup players marks the largest player-led climate action in the history of football. Key players such as Jessie Fleming from Canada and Elena Linari from Italy have also played significant roles in this endeavor. The initiative is supported by organizations like Common Goal and Football For Future.
Pedersen initiated the idea and presented it to her Denmark and Juventus teammates, who supported the cause. She then collaborated with Common Goal and Football For Future to further develop the initiative, aiming to provide a short-term solution to a broader environmental issue. As part of their efforts, the players are donating funds to various climate-resilience, carbon-offsetting, and adaptation initiatives.
“I want to ensure my World Cup experience has a positive environmental legacy,” Pedersen said. “Climate change is the biggest issue humanity faces, and I want to be part of the solution. While there are no current sustainable solutions to aviation, as players we are setting an example and taking a tangible step in the right direction.”
Pedersen has quickly been able to get a large following from other footballers taking part in the World Cup this year, with Chelsea’s Fleming one of them. “This is a topic I feel passionate about, and I hope this action my teammates and I are taking accelerates the climate conversation and sets a precedent for what athletes can do to push for more environmental policies in football,” Fleming told the Guardian.
Taking part in the campaign, she said, was an “easy initiative to get excited about because it’s a good way of drawing attention to the issue of the carbon footprint associated with these tournaments”.
The project not only looks to have a positive effect in regards to the climate as a whole but also to leave a lasting impact on supporters of the World Cup. Fleming said that she hopes the initiative will show fans, especially younger supporters, that football “means using your voice to advocate things that are important for you”.
Common Goal, the social and environmental collective movement in global football, and Football For Future, the UK-based climate advocacy football not-for-profit organization, facilitated the campaign.