As football teams across the globe were beginning their preparations for the new season this week, we caught up with one man who holds a unique role in the world game, but also one that is part of a larger plan to reduce carbon emissions in the process.
The environmental ambassador for France’s national football team, Andre-Pierre Gignac, became the latest recipient of a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) award earlier this year for his dedication to sustainable development.
Gignac has played 15 international caps for France and is not only revered by his teammates, but also by the UNEP, who have given him his second award after he was given the inaugural prize in 2015.
As world leaders prepare to meet in Bonn this month for the COP 24, the two-week conference at which climate change will be discussed from 9 October, the footballer hopes that his platform will further the cause of reducing the carbon footprint of the world’s teams.
“There is a big difference between me representing France and a football player on the pitch,” Gignac told the Guardian. “When I go out on the pitch I show that a bunch of men playing together can give a game, but because I’m representing the French national team and only one country there is more to be done.”
Gignac believes that one of the most effective ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the world’s teams is by introducing sustainability across the board for the league’s biggest players.
“Every professional footballer is now obliged to wear an Adidas shirt made from recycled material,” he said. “Everyone is holding themselves to new standards because the people at the top are now actively involved. I hope this extends to all the other national teams and the big clubs in the Premier League and La Liga. I don’t just want to send a message to companies like Adidas and Nike, who are getting their money from such emission-related projects. I want the global game to be representative of what we want to achieve, which is to preserve our planet.”