Roger Federer issues non-committal reply to Greta Thurnberg fossil fuel criticism

Simon Briggs
The Telegraph
Roger Federer has come under fire for his sponsorship deal with Credit Suisse - AP
Roger Federer has come under fire for his sponsorship deal with Credit Suisse - AP

Roger Federer issued a non-committal reply to Greta Thunberg and the rest of the climate activists who have been protesting against the sponsorship deal he holds with Credit Suisse – a bank who are closely associated with fossil fuel extraction.

Twelve Swiss activists appeared in court on Tuesday after they had refused to pay fines incurred when they staged a publicity stunt last year, playing tennis in whites inside various branches of Credit Suisse to highlight Federer’s relationship with the bank.

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The hashtag #WakeUpRoger began trending on Twitter this week, and protestors outside the courtroom held up banners reading “Credit Suisse is destroying the planet. Roger, do you support them?”

Meanwhile, Thunberg retweeted a post from 350.org Europe – an activist group named after the upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists believe would be safe – that claimed Credit Suisse had given US$57million to organisations searching for new fossil fuel deposits. “@RogerFederer do you endorse this?” was the last line of the tweet.

Climate concerns have been in the news in Australia because of the ongoing bushfire crisis, which prompted over 100,000 protestors to march in nine cities across the country on Friday to register their anger at the way the Liberal government have handled the disaster.

Federer has already signed up to headline a fund-raising exhibition – to be staged on Rod Laver Arena five days before the Australian Open – in aid of bushfire relief, which will also involve Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Naomi Osaka and Caroline Wozniacki.

However, Federer’s response to Thunberg and company contained plenty of words without making the slightest commitment to changing his relationship with Credit Suisse.

“I take the impacts and threat of climate change very seriously, particularly as my family and I arrive in Australia amidst devastation from the bush fires,” said the statement from Federer, who has been practising in Melbourne since the weekend.

“As the father of four young children and a fervent supporter of universal education, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the youth climate movement, and I am grateful to young climate activists for pushing us all to examine our behaviours and act on innovative solutions. We owe it to them and ourselves to listen. I appreciate reminders of responsibility as a private individual, as an athlete and as an entrepreneur, and I’m committed to using this privileged position to dialogue on important issues with my sponsors.”

Meanwhile, the two highest-ranked players in the world – Nadal and Novak Djokovic – will face off in Sunday’s final of the ATP Cup. Nadal came from a set down on Saturday to beat 20-year-old local hero Alex de Minaur as Spain ousted hosts Australia, while Djokovic got the better of Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in an exceptionally high-quality match.

“Gonna be a tough match for me, of course,” said Nadal, who had previously lost to Belgium’s David Goffin in Friday’s semi-final. “He [Djokovic] has been playing some great matches this week. “But here I am. I think I finished with positive energy tonight. I know I have to be ready to play at my highest level to have my chance tomorrow. I need something else, and I'm looking for it.”

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