September 9 – Recognised by FIFA and the United Nations as the world’s most environmentally sustainable club, Forest Green Rovers have now attracted attention from Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin who has become the club’s second-largest shareholder.
The 25-year-old Spanish defender “made the investment in the club as part of his belief that professional players have a responsibility to create awareness around environmental issues – and embrace their own platform to improve sustainability in the sport,” said a club media release.
Forest Green Rovers is majority owned by Dale Vince, chief executive of renewable energy company Ecotricity and has become something of a footballing pioneer since taking over Forest Green which became the world’s first official carbon neutral club last year as part of a new UN ‘Sports for Climate Action’ initiative – with the aim to bring sporting bodies and clubs around the world together to fight climate change.
Forest Green’s sustainability spans three major areas – energy, transport and food. The club is famously vegan – serving plant-based food to its players and fans. It also plays on an organic pitch, with the stadium powered entirely by green energy.
Like Forest Green Rovers, Bellerin is vegan and has a strong environmental message he wants to deliver. He planted 3,000 trees for every Arsenal victory during ‘project restart’.
“I was really excited when I first discovered the opportunity to get involved at Forest Green Rovers – and the brilliant work the club is already doing. It’s important that I invest in things I am passionate about – and I’m excited to help push football into having a sustainable future,” said Bellerin.
“Forest Green Rovers prove to clubs who say ‘they don’t have resources to be sustainable’ – that it is possible. With the new stadium, being carbon neutral and vegan the club is doing some mind-blowing work. People have a universal love of football, so there’s no better industry to promote sustainability – and what we can do as football supporters to be more environmentally conscious.”
No detail was given as to the actual size and value of the investment in the club made by Bellerin but it seems unlikely that he will be a passive investor.
“I like Hector’s approach, his personal journey and the things he’s trying to do – they make sense. I’m looking forward to working with him on our projects at FGR and this wider agenda we have a shared interest in,” said Vince.
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