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Archbishop of Canterbury’s football team to host ‘green’ football match

17 January 2023

Church of England

Players from ABC FC, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s football team, at a recent match

Players from ABC FC, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s football team, at a recent match

THE Archbishop of Canterbury’s football team, ABC FC, is to host a “green” football match against an interfaith team as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of climate change.

The club, formed of Church of England clergy, was founded by the Rector of St Mary’s, Fetcham, the Revd Pouya Heidari, who played professionally in Iran and now captains ABC FC. Its first game was played in February 2020.

More than 80 football clubs across the country — including at Premier League level — are competing for the Green Football Cup. The winner will be decided not by balls in the back of the net but by the number of climate-friendly goals achieved by the fans. This might include taking public transport or walking to the match, eating a vegetarian meal, turning down the thermostat, or bringing water bottles and coffee cups from home.

Clubs will also be pledging to make their fixtures “greener” in similar ways.

The tournament, announced on Tuesday, will conclude on the first weekend in February, during which players will wear green armbands at their fixtures.

Before then, on Saturday, the Archbishop’s XI will play Heaven Help Us — a national team which uses sport to celebrate the diversity of faith communities — at 12.30 p.m. at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford. All are welcome to attend.

The campaign, which is set to become an annual event, is backed by more than 30 supporters, including the FA, the EFL, the WSL, the National Trust, RSPB, and the Church of England. Anyone can participate by choosing their activities and registering their goals at www.greenfootballweekend.com, where the leaderboard can be viewed. At the time of writing, Barnsley were top, with 213 green goals.

Archbishop Welby said: “Football is a wonderful way to bring people together around a shared passion and purpose — and there is no greater goal than addressing the climate crisis together. . .

“Following Jesus has to mean tackling climate change: it’s about loving our neighbour and protecting the world that God has created. I’ll be praying for all the teams taking part in the Green Football campaign, and praying too that it inspires fans and communities to score plenty of ‘green goals’ along the way.”

Mr Heidari said: “It is our joy and our duty to be good stewards of our world.” Mohammed Sadiq Patel, who leads the Heaven Help Us team, said: “Everyone at Heaven Help Us — whether Christian, Jewish , Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, or Buddhist — is unified in the quest to safeguard the planet.”

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