Football must stop working with oil companies

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Football must stop working with oil companies

By Amit Singh


Wonker under a Creative Commons Licence

Football changed a lot after the Premier League and the Champions League started.

Nearly all parts of a club now have sponsors. Manchester United has a beer sponsor (Singha) and even a ‘Sustainable Technology’ partner (Abengoa). Clubs are getting money from sponsors for anything they can and competitions like the ‘Barclays Premier League’ are the same.

Gazprom (a very big Russian fossil fuel company) is the ‘official partner’ of the UEFA Champions League. This is the best club competition in world football and 4.2 billion people watch it over the world. The companies often sponsor the clubs for the wrong reasons. And they are not the best companies. Gazprom is a very good example of this.

People have been fighting, with some success, to get universities and NOGs to stop their investments in fossil fuel companies. University College London, for example, has been under a lot of pressure from students to break from mining company BHP Billiton. But, in football, people do not worry about things like this. People do not often ask about where the money is coming from. Not many people worry when they see Gazprom logo in the build-up to the Champions League. But last year, the Russian authorities (for Gazprom) kept 30 Greenpeace activists in prison for three months for protesting against oil drilling in the Arctic. The protesters had tried to climb up a Gazprom offshore oil rig.

Gazprom is one of the biggest gas and oil companies in the world. And they recently started working together with Shell to begin getting oil in the Arctic.

Many people in football made their money through oil and mining: Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri (who own 30 per cent of the London Arsenal football club), Roman Abramovich who owns Chelsea football club, and Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Manchester City.

No-one looks at the sponsorship agreements that clubs make. No-one is interested in where the money comes from – they only want famous players and cups.

Why is UEFA so close to organizations that are destroying the planet? The simple answer is money – but it should not be so simple.

Other companies have seen how wrong this is. Greenpeace made Lego end a multi-million dollar agreement with Shell. Football clubs and the Champions League should follow their example, not be used to clean up the image of oil companies. If the Rockefeller family can break away from fossil fuels, football can too.

If UEFA stop working with Gazprom, Gazprom will not lose money, but this will send an important message that football is a game which does not want to be linked to the destruction of our planet or to clean the image of fossil fuel companies. Football fans should get involved with this.

People need to put pressure on the Premier League to ask them questions about how club owners got their money. They should control the people who can take over or buy shares in clubs.

Companies like Gazprom should not have their names on football shirts or around football pitches. Football needs to say that no-one wants their money here.

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