Meet the world's greenest soccer club

  • FGR is the world’s only vegan soccer club after making the switch to a plant-based diet for all players, fans, staff and events two years ago.
  • It is now been certified carbon neutral by the United Nations, after signing up to the UNFCCC Climate Neutral Now initiative.

    Far away from the super stadiums of Barcelona’s Nou Camp and Wembley Stadium in London, lies The New Lawn, home to Forest Green Rovers (FGR). Officially recognized by governing body FIFA as the world’s greenest soccer club.

    Located in the tiny town of Nailsworth in Gloucestershire, England, Forest Green plays in the fourth tier of English soccer and is the smallest club to ever play in the professional leagues.

    FGR is the world’s only vegan soccer club after making the switch to a plant-based diet for all players, fans, staff and events two years ago. It is now been certified carbon neutral by the United Nations, after signing up to the UNFCCC Climate Neutral Now initiative.

    Forest Green chairman and founder of clean energy company Ecotricity, Dale Vince, told CNBC that sport is a good vehicle to carry the sustainability message.

    “Today 30 percent of Britain’s energy comes from renewable energy already, that’s increasing. Electric cars are on the verge of taking over the roads,” said Vince.

    “Veganism is becoming a really popular thing. And this football club has all of those elements in it, and it’s a great vehicle for getting the message out.”

    There’s clear, clean energy evidence all around the stadium with solar panels on top of the south stand roof and a system that means all rainwater that falls on the stands or on the pitch is recycled, to minimize the club’s use of mains water.

    The club has electric car charging facilities at the stadium, to encourage fans to travel to games sustainably and even a robot gardener, known as “The Mobot,” taking care of the world’s only organic soccer field.

    “It’s all electric, and it’s GPS-mapped so you can track where it goes and it’s all fed off the solar panels on the top of the south stand. I think it only uses 1.4 percent of the solar panels, which is about £50 ($64) of electricity a year.” said head groundsman Adam Witchell.

    “It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it saves me six to eight hours a week in work,” he added.

    Away from the pitch, the club is totally vegan — and its food has the official seal of approval from the Vegan Society. Fans heading to The New Lawn on a match day don’t get the option of a meat pie, greasy beef burger or other traditional English soccer foods. Instead, it’s a far healthier footballing feast.

    The players as well have had to embrace the new dietary requirements and are buying into the idea that a vegan diet can even boost their performances.

    Forest Green striker Christian Doidge has been one of those enjoying the benefits.

    “I’m used to it now, I’ve been here for two years and I’ve had the best two years of my career. On and off the pitch I’ve been feeling really good, I suppose a lot of it’s to do with the football club and the way it’s run and it makes me feel at ease and it makes me feel really fit and healthy.”

    Ambitions for the club are to move up through the English football leagues. Its ultimate goal is to take its eco-friendly mission to the next level, and create another world-first by moving to a new purpose-built all-wooden stadium.

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