These days, more often than usual, we hear that an area of forest the size of a football pitch is
destroyed every minute. The number of minutes varies depending on many factors, which mostly
relate to how much meat people are eating around the world.

SK Austrian Klagenfurt has come up with a new angle on the forest and football pitch meme. Artist
Klaus Littman, himself inspired by a drawing by Max Peintner made over 30 years ago, has created a
natural forest inside Klagenfurt’s Wörthersee Stadium.

Photos and short report here:

One thing that makes this installation so beautiful is that it is real. It is not a screen. It is not
something you click. Not virtual. You can go to Klagenfurt and see and smell it and listen to the wind
in the leaves. If you want you can see a forest much closer to home you probably can do. There is no
need to see one in a football ground, But one day, if we don’t look after the forests, we might only
be able to see them in special venues like zoos.

Is this meme something football can build on?

Could clubs commit to restore an area of forest the size of their pitch every home game? It would cost about a thousand pounds per game if the land is available for free. More like £10,000 (order of magnitude) if you have to secure the land somewhere.

If you have 20,000 fans visiting your ground that’s 50p per fan. It looks like there is something affordable there which could be shaped into a campaign and perhaps a competition. (Might be better to do this with cricket, where a ground would fit more than twice as many trees.)

With 380 premier league games played in a season, that would mean reforestation of some 300 hectares or around 300,000 trees. A gesture, no more, bearing in mind the millions of hectares which each year go up in flame or down in shame under the chainsaw and bulldozer. But a gesture is a start.

Burnley have a cool scheme, the Evergreen Project, based around their third kit. For every Evergreen shirt sold, they’ll plant a tree at a nearby training ground in the shadow of Pendle Hill.

That could be various forms of meat. These forms include beef-burgers, 36 oz steaks, Cumberland sausages, pork chops, pork stew, pork pies, porcupines (de-spiked), poulet frit a la Kentucky and that soy-fed physical-chemical amalgamation of gristle, trotters, tripe, upper, lower and basement intestines, quick-mix osteoporosal boneflour, mashed and de-retinated eyeballs, testicular and oviate residues, hair, scales (weighed or piece rate), feathers and foetal miasma known in the meat trade as chicken nuggets, washed down with groans of caged agony and grief.

Luckily for Klagenfurt, the Karawankenblick Stadium is available next door for them to play their home games until the forest installation is returned to its natural habitat at the end of October.

Shift that to a top four team’s shirt sales, and there’d be well over a million trees planted a year per team. That kind of contribution from the global football industry would leave a stunning legacy for future generations. A million trees would cost a handful of millions to plant. An evergreen fund from sponsors and media partners, matched by a whip-round in the dressing room and a collection tin at the turnstile?

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