How Mastercard and Pledgeball Are Kicking Off Sustainability in Football

61% of football fans want support in sustainability, so Mastercard is working with Pledgeball to boost sustainability in sport, one goal at a time

Four in five (80%) UK football fans say sustainability is important to them, Mastercard reports.

The consensus, however, is that they need support, with almost two in three (61%) wanting more help making sustainable choices.

More than half of football fans (57%) agree that football can inspire collective action on sustainability – so Mastercard is rallying to encourage positive change through its partnership with Pledgeball.

“As the football community, we have the potential to drive change like nothing else,” says Katie Cross, Founder of Pledgeball

“We all want clean air, stable food systems, green spaces and conditions that allow us to enjoy the game that we love, and making our voices heard through our words and actions can drive the rapid transition we need. 

“This campaign and the fantastic collaboration with Mastercard has given us the opportunity to really illustrate this collective drive and potential power that football and its community has.” 

Pledgeball is a research-backed charity that engages fans and the sports community on environmental sustainability and climate change. 

Working with stakeholders across the community, from clubs, county FAs and leagues to the Football Supporters’ Association, Lawn Tennis Association and International Biathlon Union, Pledgeball effectively mobilises fans and players to make pro-environmental choices, resulting in a reduction in emissions on game day and beyond.

In the UK, the match-day actions fans would find easiest to adopt are switching to e-tickets (38%), using reusable cups (36%), avoiding single-use plastics at the stadium (33%), or travelling to the match using public transport (29%).

If 90,000 people (the capacity of Wembley) reduced their shower time to five minutes, the emissions saved would be equivalent to permanently taking more than 500 cars off the road. 

With an estimated 450 million football fans expected to watch the Champions League final next week, if even a portion of those watching opted to make a pledge, the CO2e saving would be considerable.

Some of the top pledges football fans have made via Pledgeball’s League so far include:

  • Walk or cycle if the journey is under 2 miles 
  • Cook leftovers and minimise your food waste 
  • Use a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water 
  • Recycle everything correctly 
  • Hang washing out instead of using the tumble dryer 
  • Switch to a green energy supplier 
  • Compost food waste 
  • Buy seasonal groceries only from in-country suppliers 
  • Keep chargers, TVs and computers off at the wall 
  • Switch to plant-based milk alternatives.

Mastercard and Pledgeball have worked with British Artist Helen Kirkum to create The Pledge Ball, in celebration of Mastercard’s 30 years of sponsorship of the Champions League and inspired by Mastercard’s work with sustainability and sports charity Pledgeball.

Created from pre-loved boots from children’s football charity Bloomsbury Football, the ball is engraved with pledges from fans, clubs, players, sponsors, charities and supporter groups.

“I’m really happy to be part of this project with Mastercard,” says Helen. 

“Football is a global sport watched by millions worldwide, so I hope the Pledge Ball we have created acts as a catalyst for positive change. Crafting the ball using preloved football boots with so much livelihood, marks and memories showcases the beauty and versatility of reusing materials. We engraved each pledge into the boot panels so they become ingrained in the story of the material and add to the legacy of its journey.”

Five-time UEFA Champions League winner Gareth Bale is supporting the campaign and added his pledge to “drink plant-based milk alternatives” to the Pledge Ball.

“I’ve been lucky enough to achieve my goals in football, score a few too, and think it’s important that we all try to set personal goals for the things that are important to us,” says Gareth Bale. 

“It’s why I’ve given my pledge to the Mastercard Pledge Ball, and I hope the 450 million fans set to watch the final next week are inspired to do the same. If football has a superpower, it’s teamwork, and I think that’s exactly what our planet needs a bit of right now.”

Pledges from across the football community were also added to Mastercard’s Pledge Ball:

  • The Priceless Planet Coalition, created by Mastercard with reforestation partners Conservation International and World Resources Institute, will restore 100m trees around the world – Mastercard 
  • Drink plant-based milk alternatives – Gareth Bale
  • Develop a sustainability policy and campaign for all clubs to do the same – The Football Supporters Association
  • Switch pitch floodlights to 100% LED by August 2024 – Bristol City FC
  • Support circular solutions for football boots – Will Troost-Ekong
  • Use the power of football to unite us to take action to live more sustainably – Alexei Rojas
  • Rally the sports community to drive systemic change – Pledgeball 
  • Support Football for Good organisations and their communities towards a just and inclusive climate transition – Common Goal
  • Raise awareness of football’s climate concerns through our ‘Football’s Climate Conversation’ podcast – 90Min
  • Use my platform to engage other athletes around climate change – David Wheeler
  • Find creative solutions to reuse our production off-cuts – Helen Kirkum Studio

The Pledge Ball will be donated by Mastercard to children’s charity Bloomsbury Football on 31 May at Somerset House, in the hope that it inspires the next generation of football and positive sustainability action.

“Football fans across Europe are proudly passionate of the game and its power to bring us together,” says Beatrice Corncacchia, Executive Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Mastercard Europe. 

“The UEFA Champions League Final is the perfect moment to highlight the role we can all play, both big and small, in making positive change. Together, we can make a difference and inspire a lasting legacy for the next generation of football.”