Greenpeace: new campaign to keep fossil fuel money out of sport targets Rugby World Cup sponsorship
The new video campaign features oil pouring out of sponsor TotalEnergies' logo in the Stade de France, flooding a Rugby World Cup match
In its new short film, created with production company Studio Birthplace, the climate action group has called for a complete ban on fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship of major sporting events. This comes as players in the 2023 Rugby World Cup prepare to kick off in France next week, with this year's tournament sponsored by French energy giant TotalEnergies.
The animation - which features mock commentary from Irish comedian Seán Burke - shows torrents of oil spilling out of TotalEnergies logos dotted around the Stade de France, where France's Les Bleus are set to play New Zealand's All Blacks on 8 September, in the first match of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Rugby players and fans in their seats, represented by mannequins, are bowled over by rivers of oil which gradually flood the stadium, while the final 10 seconds of the video show footage of real climate destruction caused by the fossil fuel industry.
Greenpeace has spoken out in the past against "sportswashing" - which it describes as when companies use sponsorship of major sports events to improve their image, and "distract from their impacts on the environment".
The campaign group previously urged the Glazer family not to sell Manchester United FC to Jim Ratcliffe, owner of chemicals giant INEOS - which is also currently in a six-year partnership with New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks.
According to Greenpeace's calculations, the global fossil fuel industry extracts enough oil to fill a stadium like the Stade De France every 3 hours and 37 minutes, less than the time it takes to play three 80-minute rugby matches.
“Integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect. Those are rugby values," Greenpeace France campaigner Edina Ifticene said. "But fossil fuel companies like TotalEnergies piggyback those values by sponsoring popular sports events like the Rugby World Cup, to distract everyone from their climate destruction."
She added: "Meanwhile, fossil fuel companies won’t stop extracting fossil fuels - even though they know it’s jeopardising a liveable future for us all - because they like the record-breaking profits they’re making.”
TotalEnergies’ Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said when the sponsorship was announced: “Integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect are key features of this sport, and they match our company’s values... more importantly, rugby is organised first and foremost around a team, just like TotalEnergies: a collective of women and men committed to the energy transition.”
But Greenpeace said that it did not believe fossil fuel giants were committed to transitioning to renewable energy, and argued that these large-scale sport sponsorships were a strategic pillar in their plans to continue and even expand operations to extract more oil and gas.
Ms Ifticene said Greenpeace wanted a complete ban on fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship of major sporting events. "It benefits no one but fossil fuel companies, and deliberately distracts everyone from the environmental destruction they cause and the communities they harm. For a safer and fairer world, we must end the fossil fuel era, starting with climate-wrecking new fossil fuel projects, before it’s too late.”