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Federer counters climate activist criticisms of sponsor Credit Suisse

Roger Federer practices ahead of the 2020 Australian Open (by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Roger Federer has said he is committed to using his “privileged position” to “dialogue on important issues” with his sponsors amid increasing criticism, including from climate change activist Greta Thunberg, over the tennis superstar’s ties to Credit Suisse.

The Swiss financial services group is one of 13 sponsors currently listed on the 20-time grand slam champion’s endorsement portfolio, but its ties to the fossil fuel industry has been receiving increasing scrutiny of late.

A number of Swiss activists appeared in court last week after refusing to pay a fine for mounting a publicity stunt in branches of Credit Suisse back in November 2018. The activists played tennis inside the branches in an effort to highlight their countryman’s ties to Credit Suisse.

On January 8, climate activist group 350.org Europe posted a tweet which read: “Since 2016 @CreditSuisse has provided $57 BILLION to companies looking for new fossil fuel deposits – something that is utterly incompatible with #ClimateAction, @RogerFederer do you endorse this? #RogerWakeUpNow.”

Thunberg retweeted the post and Federer, who is currently preparing for the Australian Open in Melbourne, responded to the mounting criticism by issuing a statement at the weekend. The statement, reported by the Reuters news agency, read: “I take 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.

“We owe it to them and ourselves to listen. I appreciate reminders of my 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.”

UK newspaper The Guardian said Credit Suisse recently stated it is “seeking to align its loan portfolios with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and has recently announced in the context of its global climate strategy that it will no longer invest in new coal-fired power plants”.

Credit Suisse today (Monday) published a fact sheet, seeking to illustrate its actions concerning climate change. It added in a statement: “Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges our planet is facing. Credit Suisse is committed to playing a critical role in the fight against this issue.”

Federer is one of the most marketable athletes in world sport. Along with Credit Suisse, his endorsement roster includes: Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, Jura, Moet & Chandon, Barilla, Lindt, Wilson, Uniqlo, NetJets, Sunrise, Rimowa and On.