The world around us is always advancing, as are most of the people that call it home.
Decent folk are more open minded, accepting, and willing to understand that change is good when it’s necessary.
This rings true when it comes to sports too.
We have elite athletes the world over that vary in sexuality, race, religion, and gender. Plenty of sports that were once dominated by male participants have opened their doors for the better.
Unfortunately, football isn’t the sport leading the way.
Yes, things have improved, but issues like racism and homophobia are still sadly rampant in the sport today.
Social media has given any idiot a platform to spew their disgusting venom. Openly gay players must remain silent in fear of what team-mates and fans will say. The sport really has a long way to go to become truly inclusive to all.
The Premier League works closely with campaigns like No Room For Racism and Rainbow Laces. Even here in Ireland our domestic league has championed the Show Racism The Red Card charity for a long time.
We all could be doing more to clean up football. Keep it as fun as always but let everyone experience that fun without judgement.
However, while football still has plenty of catching up to do, one issue is being tackled head on, the protection of the planet.
We have all seen major corporations like McDonald’s, Disney and Starbucks make changes to help the environment.
While football may not be the world leader in this battle, it’s starting to pull its weight in 2021.
League of Ireland
In our own humble league here in Ireland, Bohemians have made an appointment during the off season that nobody expected.
The Dublin based club have recently appointed a Climate Justice Officer.
This is a newly founded position within Bohemians that will be spearheaded by Sean McCabe.
McCabe has worked with other climate justice organisations around Ireland. He also met with delegates from Scottish club Hibernian FC, who earned the Greenest Club in Scotland Award in 2020.
This meeting turned out to be extremely enlightening for Bohs.
They will now allow McCabe to work within the community and focus on development for climate justice in Dublin 7.
‘The Gypsies’ will also learn and liaise with relevant parties at a local, national and European level.
Many have been quick to call this nothing more than a PR stunt and they may be right.
However, we can just take it at face value for now and it looks like another progressive step for one of Ireland’s most forward-thinking clubs.
These changes are happening on a much bigger scale too.
While Hibernian may top the table as Scotland’s greenest club, who tops this chart in the heights of the Premier League?
Thankfully, this question was answered earlier this week.
Tottenham Top The Table
Tottenham Hotspur are the greenest club in the Premier League. They topped a table published by BBC Sports and the United Nations Sport Positive Summit for 2020.
Clubs were asked to provide evidence of their efforts to become more sustainable.
Specific points were awarded for categories like clean energy, sustainable transport, energy efficiency and waste management.
Bonus points were awarded to clubs that signed up to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, which Spurs have done at the start of 2021, pushing them to the top of the table.
The top five is rounded out with fellow North London side Arsenal, Brighton and the two Manchester Clubs. Fun fact, Aston Villa are the club sitting rock bottom, get it together Villa.
Tottenham topped the table back in 2019, they have more success in the sustainability table than the Premier League table.
While this is all commendable work, one team is head and shoulders above everyone when it comes to helping the environment.
Forest Green Rovers
League Two side Forest Green are undoubtedly the greenest side in world football.
The club based out of Gloucestershire are currently sitting second in the league, just one point off the top as they fight for automatic promotion.
However, their fight against climate change and to change the culture around British football is just as important to them.
Since 2010, the aptly named Forest Green have been owned by a man called Dale Vince.
Vince is a tycoon in the wind power game. He even owns multi-million-pound energy company Ecotricity.
With the investment of Dale Vince, Forest Green have navigated their way into the English Football League (EFL) for the first time in the clubs 132-year history.
They have also received financial backing from Arsenal full back and environmentalist Hector Bellerin.
Dale Vince himself is a self-confessed hippie and hates to be classed as a businessman. This attitude has seen some real changes around this club.
Forest Green are 100% ran by green electricity.
Their home ground New Lawn is kitted out with numerous eco-friendly innovations such as solar panels. These panels produce 20% of the club’s electricity on site. While the other 80% is generated from wind farms around different parts of England.
New Lawn is also fitted with a water cycle. There are drains dug around the pitch that filter back to a massive water tank at the side of the ground. This tank collects all the water so it can be reused on the pitch once again.
The one big initiative that the club has undertook was their switch to become completely vegan.
In 2015, Forest Green officially became the worlds first vegan football club.
This meant every existing and incoming player had to adhere to a strict vegan diet while inside the walls of the club. Plus, all home and away fans only had vegan options available for purchase at New Lawn.
Understandably, the initial reaction from supporters was far from positive.
Like all things it took time. Eventually, home and visiting fans got on-board with the likes of vegan pies. Forest Green have even reported that food sales on a matchday have increased.
With both fans and players understanding the environmental and nutritional values around the club going vegan.
The club has now applied for planning permission to build a new stadium entirely from wood, which would be the greenest stadium in the world.
These environmental acts have made Forest Green the real leaders when it comes to going green in sports.
It has made this relatively small side somewhat famous for what they stand for on and off the pitch.