Footy club pressured to ditch $2 million a year fossil fuel sponsorship

Fremantle Football Club has been urged to dump fossil fuel giant Woodside as its long-time major sponsor – a break-up that would cost millions.

A campaign run by the Australian Conservation Foundation saw the group’s First Nations lead Josie Alec and former West Australian Premier Carmen Lawrence today deliver a petition with 8,000 signatures to the headquarters of the Dockers in Perth.

“It’s time for the Fremantle footy club to draw a line under the Woodside era,” Alec said. “Woodside is using Freo to greenwash its image.”

Fremantle Football Club jersey with Woodside logo on it

The deal between Fremantle and Woodside is worth a reported $2 million a year and the current arrangement expires in October.

Lawrence, who was the premier of WA for three years at the start of the 1990s and was Fremantle’s inaugural number one ticket holder, said the club was aware of the climate impacts of new fossil fuel projects.

“They know what is at stake here,” Lawrence said. “It is not acceptable that in the hottest year ever recorded, Freo would think it is acceptable to keep one of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies as a major sponsor.

“We are urging Fremantle to make the right choice and be on the right side of history. This is about showing leadership and sending a strong message to young Australians increasingly worried about the state of the climate.”

In a statement, Fremantle Football Club said: “The club’s partnership with Woodside runs until the end of 2023 and what it looks like beyond that is yet to be determined. The duty of the board and executive is to listen to stakeholders, give things due consideration, maintain balance and make the best decision for the club, at the right time. Once a decision is reached, we will communicate it with our members and partners accordingly.”

In April this year, Woodside’s chief executive officer Meg O’Neill admitted the company was responsible for the removal of sacred rock art during the construction of one of its WA projects.

“It’s not okay in 2023 to partner with a company that has disrespected First Nations’ wishes on the Murujuga rock art and that is fuelling climate destruction,” Alec said today.

“Woodside has shown it’s not interested in getting out of fossil fuels. The company has new oil projects in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of West Africa and massive new gas fields planned in Western Australia… all at a time when climate scientists warn we cannot afford any new coal, oil or gas projects if we are to have a safe climate.”

Woodside ACF petition ONE (L-R Carmen Lawrence, Josie Alec, Jemima Williamson-Wong)

Carmen Lawrence, Josie Alec and Jemima Williamson-Wong deliver the petition to Fremantle Football Club.

Recent research by independent thinktank The Australia Institute found growing support among Australians for reduced advertising by fossil fuel companies.

The study found 53% of respondents support a ban on such companies sponsoring national sporting teams, with 32% opposed to such a move.

The polling also showed three-in-five respondents (60%) agree fossil fuel sponsorship ‘is the new cigarette advertising’.

“This research shows fossil fuel corporations are losing their social license to sponsor sporting teams and major events in mainstream society,” Richie Merzian, director of the Australia Institute’s Climate and Energy Program, said.

“Australians don’t accept cigarette sponsorship due to the deadly impact on human health and this research shows two in three Australians view fossil fuel sponsorship as the new cigarette sponsorship.

“Given that gas, coal and oil companies supercharge the deadly impact of floods, bushfires and extreme weather events, it’s unsurprising these companies are losing their social license to sponsor major events in mainstream society.”

Mumbrella has contacted Woodside for comment.


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