Hashtag 'RogerWakeUpNow' goes viral as Federer faces climate action criticism

Hashtag 'RogerWakeUpNow' goes viral as Federer faces climate action criticism
Tennis icon Roger Federer is currently in Melbourne preparing for the start of the Australian Open, set to kick off on Tuesday. Credit: Rob Young/Flickr.

The Twitter hashtag 'RogerWakeUpNow' has gone viral as tennis icon Roger Federer is facing criticism from climate activists, including Greta Thunberg, for his sponsorship deal with Credit Suisse.

The tennis icon has been the subject of growing climate action related criticism since the middle of last week when several Swiss activists appeared in court on Tuesday in Lausanne in Switzerland after they refused to pay a fine for playing tennis in Credit Suisse branches in November 2018. The activists carried out the stunt in order to highlight the bank's heavy investments in fossil fuels.

The students were charged a fine of CHF21,600 (€20,000.69) for trespassing, according to SwissInfo.

The stunt, which saw several activists dressed up in tennis whites and play tennis in Credit Suisse branches in Lausanne and Geneva, was also staged with the intention of highlighting Roger Federer's partnership with the bank; a ten-year-long partnership the activists want Federer to drop.

According to climate activists, Credit Suisse is said to have provided $57 billion (€51.24 billion) to fossil fuel investments since 2016.

The above Tweet, which calls on Roger Federer to answer to the actions of the bank he works so closely with, has been retweeted close to 1,000 times, including by youth climate activist Greta Thunberg and the Swiss branch of climate activist group Extinction Rebellion.

In response to the escalating criticism, Roger Federer said in a statement that he was "happy to be reminded” of his responsibilities.

Currently in Australia preparing for the Australian Open, Federer added that he had a “great deal of respect and admiration” for the youth climate movement inspired by Thunberg and that he "take[s] the impacts and threat of climate change very seriously, particularly as my family and I arrive in Australia amidst devastation from the bushfires."

“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," the statement continued.

Credit Suisse, who donate $1 million per year to the Roger Federer Foundation which provides education to children in Malawi and other African nations, as well as supporting the next generation of sports stars in Switzerland, said on Tuesday that, moving forward, it plans on aligning its loan portfolios with objectives set out in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

At the beginning of December, Federer was the first living person in Switzerland to have a coin minted in his honour.

With 20 grand slams under his belt, Federer sits at the top of the list of men with the most grand slam wins ever in history.

Evie McCullough

The Brussels Times

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